The Perfect Score

What is the perfect score for a round of golf? Ben Hogan answered this question once but did not elaborate. So let’s find the answer step by step.

Playing scratch is the ultimate dream of all double digit handicappers though it is the single digit handicapper who does actually achieve it once in a while. It is not uncommon for a good pro, however, to play nearly error free golf and also score a few birdies, thus posting a score in the mid-60s. These pros, however, are within striking chance of a birdie on most of the   holes  they play and there is no reason to think that with some luck thrown in, one day somebody will birdie each of the 18  holes  in a round.

Yet, 54 is obviously not the perfect score for we have not taken into account the eagle possibilities in the par 5s, a real possibility with the long hitting pros today. If a player were to shoot all birdies in the other  holes  and also make eagles in all the par 5s, taking the average of four par 5s for a 18  hole  course, the score will be 50.

But this leaves out the possibility of scoring  holes  in one, a real possibility. In fact, Arnold Palmer scored  holes  in one on the same par 3  hole  on consecutive days of play. So, it is something which can be done and repeated too. Most people attribute  holes  in one entirely to luck. Yet, skill obviously plays a substantial part for only a well-struck ball gives luck a chance to  hole  it. No doubt, even a good shot requires luck to roll into the cup but we are talking of perfect score here. So assuming lots of luck,  holes  in one in all four par3s of a typical 18  hole  golf course will give a score of 46 provided, of course, birdies and eagles are also made as described earlier. All this looks quite improbable but perfection is not something routine or probable.

I am sure you can guess that scores can conceivably be lower. Why, green in regulation for par 4 is two shots-far too many, some may say. Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and many others routinely drive the green in short par fours. In fact, the likes of J B Holmes and Bubba Watson are known to bomb 400 yard drives when they get going. And if you can reach the green in one shot, it shouldn’t be too difficult to putt the ball into the  hole  with your second stroke. It’s only an eagle. Suppose you could do it for all the ten par 4  holes  in a round, your score goes down to 36. But, if you are such a long and accurate hitter so as to reach all the par 4s in one shot, it would not be too much to expect you to drive a par 5 within short wedge distance and then  hole  the wedge shot with a little luck. You would have scored an albatross. If Gene Sarazen could  hole  it at Augusta from 235 yards, surely you can do it from about a hundred odd yards you have left it to the  hole  after your first shot. If you could double- eagle all the four par 5s, then you have arrived at the score of 32 which is not bad but not perfect yet.

For, if you are reaching the par fours in one shot, you deserve the luck it takes to make the ball trickle into the  hole . If you can reach it, you can  hole  it and if you can do it once, you can do it again. There is strong logic to that and golf mind-doctors would approve of the way you have not allowed any of the probability equations to clutter your mind. All that your mind recalls is that Swami Vivekananda scored a  hole  in one on a par four  hole  with his first golf shot ever. You have now arrived at the sweet score of 22.

Now, we are close but we need to take into account the long hitting champions with their so called illegal drivers who can sometimes touch 600 yards. And if you can reach a par five green in one shot, you can  hole  it too. It would, in fact, be surprising if you didn’t considering your consistent  hole-in-one  play on this round. Your score is now 18. You can’t go lower than that for even if you make the ball magically carry to the  hole  from the tee, it will either count as a stroke or you will have to play the shot again without penalty.