How Long Is a Par-5 Hole? (And More Par-5 Facts)

On the vast majority of golf courses, par-5 holes are the longest holes. Par-3 holes are the shortest, par-4 holes are in the middle, and par-5 holes are the longest. (A small percentage of golf courses have par-6 holes, which, where they exist, are longer than par-5s.) But how does being "the longest holes" translate into actual yardages?

Keep in mind that "par" refers to the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need. So a par-5 hole is one that an "expert" is expected to need five strokes to complete: a drive, a lay-up, an approach shot into the green, and two putts.

The world's governing bodies of golf, the USGA and R&A, do, in fact, provide yardage guidelines for holes of various pars. Those guidelines are included in the World Handicap System introduced in the year 2020.

These are the yardage guidelines for par-5 holes:

  • For men, holes from 450 yards to 710 yards qualify as par-5s;
  • For women, holes from 370 to 600 yards qualify as par-5s.
These ranges of yardages refer to actual, measured lengths. But you might have seen par-5 holes on TV whose yardages fall outside of the ranges above. That's because the professional golf tours do their own course set-up and can call a hole's par anything they want.

As for the local golf courses that you and I play, the yardages above are guidelines, not requirements. Also, the course ratings teams (that represent the USGA or R&A and visit golf courses to assign pars, course rating and slope rating) 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.

These yardage guidelines have changed over the years. The USGA, prior to the creation of the World Handicap System, always included yardage guidelines for par-5 and other holes in its own handicap system.

In the first such guidelines, issued by the USGA in 1911, the range for par-5 holes was 426 to 600 yards. In 1917, it was 446 to 600 yards. It 1956 it was 471 yards and up. No separate guidelines for women were included in those years. But in the USGA guidelines that were in effect prior to 2020, the par-5 lengths were recommended at 471-690 yards for men, 401-575 yards for women.

How many par-5 holes are on a golf course? That's up to the course designer and the crew that sets up the golf course for daily play. But the most-common number is four, with three and two following.

What counts as a green in regulation on a par-5 hole? If you hit the green in three strokes or fewer, you are credited with a GIR on a par-5.

What is an eagle on a par-5 hole? An eagle is a score of 2-under par for a hole, so on a par-5, a score of 3 is an eagle.

What is an albatross (double eagle) on a par-5 hole? An albatross/double eagle is 3-under on a hole, so on a par-5, a score of 2 is an albatross.

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