When fans tune in to watch a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour or DP World Tour, they'll likely see the letter L an awful lot on the leaderboard or a tournament scoreboard, as well as when a standard bearer walks by with players' scores relative to par.
The letter L is important in golf, and it's basically the standard by which all golfers judged.
What does the letter L mean on a golf leaderboard?
In golf, the letter L by itself is short for "level," which in American circles is known as "even" or "even par." When an L appears next to a player's name or their score, it means they are at even par for their round that day or for the entire tournament. It's an expression of golf scoring.
Being even par in golf means a player is, in aggregate for the round or the percentage of the round or tournament they've played so far, playing par golf. If a golf course has a par of 72 and a player shot L (level par) for the day, then they shot 72. Par can change from course to course, so it's a way of simplifying the scoring for a fan or viewer to see how a player is doing relative to par.
While in a round, a player can be even par through the percentage of holes they've played so far. So, if a player plays five holes -- a three par 4s, a par 3 and a par 5 -- then an even-par score through five completed holes is 20. If a player has shot 19, they're 1 under through five holes. If that player shot 21, then they're 1 over through five holes. If the player shot 20, then a golf leaderboard would show the player's name, the letter L and the number 5, for five completed holes.
If a player completed their 18-hole round and shot even par, then the leaderboard would show the player's name, L and either the number 18 or the par for the golf course -- typically the latter.