How Long Is a Par-4 Hole? (And More Par-4 Facts)

Par-4 holes on a golf course can be thought of as the middle ground of golf holes: They are longer than par-3 holes, but shorter than par-5 holes. But what does that mean in terms of yardage?

We're about to find out. But you can also think of par-4 holes as the standard, or typical, golf hole, because regulation golf courses (meaning those that play to par-70 through par-73 yardages) have more par-4 holes than other kinds.

Remember that par refers to the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to play a hole. So a par-4 hole is one that an expert golfer is expected to need four strokes (on average) to play: a tee shot, an approach shot, and two putts.

What are the yardage guidelines for a par-4 hole? Here they are:

  • For men, holes from 240 yards to 490 yards qualify as par-4 holes;
  • For women, holes from 200 yards to 420 yards qualify as par-4 holes.
These ranges of yardages refer to actual, measured lengths, and these guidelines are included in the World Handicap System introduced by the governing bodies of golf (the R&A and USGA) in the year 2020. Today, when a golf course is being rated by those governing bodies so it can be included in the World Handicap System, the course ratings team will set the par of each hole.

Now, we've all seen par-4 holes on TV whose yardages fall outside of the ranges above, and we might have even encountered such a hole in person. That's because, in the first case, the professional golf tours do their own course set-up and can call a hole's par anything they want; and, in the second case, because these yardage ranges really are guidelines, not requirements.

In addition to the actual, measured yardage of a hole, the course ratings team (representing the USGA or R&A, most likely through an affiliated state or regional association) will also consider "effective playing length" when assigning par ratings for a golf course. That takes into account such things as whether a hole plays uphill or downhill; how many bunkers or penalty areas are on a hole; how tight or wide open the hole is, to name three possible factors.

The yardage guidelines for how long a par-4 hole can be have changed several times in golf history. For example:

  • Prior to the World Handicap System's latest tweak (as of 2020), the par-4 yardages for men were 251 yards to 470 yards;
  • And the par-4 range for women was 211 yards to 400 yards.
In fact, that men's yardage (251-470) goes all the way back to 1956 for USGA territories. In 1917, the men's par-4 yardage guidline was 251 to 445 yards (no women's guidelines existed this early). And in the first yardage guidelines issued by the USGA in 1911, par-4 holes were recommended for lengths of 225 to 425 yards.

What counts as a green in regulation on a par-4 hole? If you hit the green in two strokes or fewer, you are credited with a GIR.

What is an eagle on a par-4 hole? A score of 2 on a par-4 hole is an eagle. An eagle is defined as a score of 2-under par on an individual hole. Two-under on a par-4 hole is 2 strokes.

What is an albatross (double eagle) on a par-4 hole? An albatross, also called a double eagle, is a score of 3-under par on an individual hole. Three-under on a par-4 hole is 1, so it takes a hole-in-one to claim an albatross on a par-4. But nobody would call a 1 on a par-4 an albatross or double eagle, because they'd be too busy shouting with excitement about their hole-in-one.

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