A History of Par

The idea of par dominates our thinking about golf. It’s how we judge a player’s performance. It’s how we assess the difficulty of a golf course. It’s how we categorize holes and courses. It shapes our perception of the game in way’s that we don’t even notice; it’s the water we swim in. And yet for most of golf history, the idea of par did not exist.
Today’s guest is Stephen Proctor (@SProctorGolf), a golf historian and the author of Monarch of the Green and The Long Golden Afternoon, as well as a co-host of the podcast The Duffer’s Literary Companion. Stephen joins Garrett to discuss why par wasn’t a necessary concept in the game’s early centuries, how the desire for something like par emerged during Young Tom Morris’s time, and how the idea began to gain momentum as golf spread to the United States in the early 1900s. They also talk about the effect that par has had on the game—an effect that neither Stephen nor Garrett sees as particularly positive.