When all a player has to judge are the small handful of players who make up a weekly foursome, and the professional players on television every weekend, it can be difficult to get a proper feel for what the average golfer would shoot on a given course. Understanding average scores, and how courses alter the expected average, makes it more manageable.
While golf has seen a great deal of progress in recent years in the available technology, while remaining within the legal structures of the rule book, the average player's scoring has not dropped. Although the equipment at his disposal may be improved, it has been found that on a given day the average golfer would be expected to post a score of approximately 100 strokes when following all the rules of golf in regard to penalty strokes. When comparing against this, players must remember to enforce all strokes, as often recreational golfers will allow some leeway with such things as not counting penalty strokes or improving lies, which will falsify a score.
Strokes are not the only way to measure the score of a player. In addition to finding the total score shot and comparing it with 100, a player can get a feel for how her scores compare, as a whole, with those of the average golfer by comparing her handicap against the average handicap for heh\r gender. Handicaps are a measure of the relative skill of a player, and take into account the course the player is on when shooting, as opposed to simply taking into account her score relative to par, and can be calculated on computers in many golf course pro shops. For men, the average handicap is 16.1, while the average is 28.9 for women.
Every course is given two ratings that determine its difficulty. They are factored into the handicap score for a player and should also be used when assessing the score for a round against what an average player would be expected to score. The Course Rating is the difficulty for a scratch golfer, and shows the average score a scratch golfer would be expected to shoot on the course. The slope is the relative difficulty for a bogey golfer, relative to a scratch golfer. On a course with a high slope rating, a higher score can be good, as the average golfer would be expected to struggle, but with a low slope, a player should shoot well below 100 to feel he has done well against average.
Milestones are a great way to work on improving your score relative to the score of an average player. The standard par for a course is 72, meaning the average golfer shoots 28 strokes over par to shoot her 100. A milestone such as becoming a bogey golfer, meaning you average shooting 1 over par on every hole, would lead to an average score of 90 strokes. Relative to the average player, you are winning by 10 strokes, which is a good result.
Focus on Improvement
One of the dangers with obsessing about scores and comparing them against someone other than yourself, in this case against "the average golfer," is the tendency to get down on yourself when you fail to meet the standards set. Instead, aim to simply improve your game, so that you lower your average score over time. In doing so, you will naturally make progress relative to the average golfer, and can progress until you are considered better than average.