Par for the Course

By Frank ThomasJuly 28, 2009, 4:00 pm
First, thanks for all you do for golf. I love reading your weekly Q&A.
I wanted to do a comparison of today's golf courses to yesteryear's courses. With all the advances in equipment, I'd like to know how a hole that is 440 yards is a par 5 on some courses and a par 4 on others. What was it when they had hickory shafts? ( I wonder what the average par-4 length was compared to today?)
Thanks again for all your help to grow the game.
' John

Thank you for your kind comments. We appreciate all the support that our Frankly Friends have given us by purchasing our books or Frankly Frog putters over the years to help fund our free services.
The 'par' for a particular hole is based on a recommended distance range ' e.g.. a par 5 would be between 471 and 690 yards long. This is a suggested guideline by the USGA. Here is how the ranges have changed over time
Par 3Up to 225Up to 250Up to 250
Par 4226 to 425251 to 445251 to 470
Par 5426 to 600446 to 600471 to 690
Par 6600+600+691+

A hole from 426 to 600 yards in 1911 (almost 100 years ago) was considered a par 5. Unfortunately for 99 percent of us, this is still a par 5, even though the recommended distance range has changed and is now 471 to 690 yards. The par rating is what a scratch golfer would be expected to score and this has changed (see table above) over time based on the performance of the elite golfer.
We know that the average drive of those of us who shoot between 90 and 94 is less than 200 yards, so we dont have a chance of reaching the long par-4s in regulation today; in 1911 we had an even lesser chance.
Par is a number which has more of a psychological influence on us than anything else in golf. It is amazing how at the recent men's U.S. Open, hole No. 7 at Bethpage Black ' a 525-yard par 4 ' had a stroke average of 4.365 and was thus considered a difficult hole. If, however, those in charge of the U.S. Open had left it as a par 5 ' in name only but still with a 4.365 stroke average ' it would've been considered one of the easiest holes in the event. Similarly, if the par-5 fourth hole (517 yards), which played to a stroke average of 4.75, was whimsically changed to a par 4 it would've been considered the most difficult hole on the course, not one of the least difficult.
I dont understand how by changing the par of a hole ' only a name ' it changes the difficulty.
Par is not important, it is your score which is important. Unless you are in a Stableford or par competition, you can change the par of any hole to whatever you want. In fact, it is suggested that if you consider some of the long par-4s as par-5s, this will help you relax and enjoy your round more.
Your handicap ' an indicator of your skill level ' is not based on par but on the course rating, which could be several strokes different than par.
John, thank you for your question. Since I was in charge of directing the development of the GHIN handicap system in 1979, I feel very qualified to answer your question. You also helped me take quite a load off my shoulders in the process.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Frank Thomas
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.