What Is a Par-4 Hole in Golf?

Aerial view of the par-4 15th hole at Gleneagles
This par-4 hole, viewed from above, is on the Centenary Course at Gleneagles in Scotland. David Cannon/Getty Images

A par 4, or par-4 hole, is a hole that an expert golfer is expected to need four strokes to complete. You can think of par-4 holes as the standard golf hole - a par of 4 is by far the most common par for holes on full-sized golf courses.

A hole's par always includes two putts, so a par 4 is one where the expert golfer is expected to hit the fairway with his tee shot, hit the green with his second stroke, and then take two putts to get the ball in the hole.

There are no rules about how long or short golf holes should be. But in its Handicapping Manual, the United States Golf Association does offer these guidelines:

  • For men, a par-4 hole is 251 to 470 yards long
  • For women, a par-4 hole is 211 to 400 yards long

(Important: Those yardages are not actual, measured yards, but, rather, a hole's effective playing length. Think of it this way: Say a hole has been measured off at 508 yards. But that hole is all downhill from the tee to the green, so it plays shorter than its measured yardage. That hole's effective playing length might only be 450 yards.)

The number of par-4 holes on a golf course might be as low as six or as high as 14, but ten par-4 holes is typical for a full-sized, 18-hole golf course.

Also Known As: 4-par, 4-par hole

Alternate Spellings: Par-4