There are a few different ways of determining the "average" golf score of male golfers. Interestingly, the "official" average, as determined by the U.S. Golf Association, the ruling body of golf in America, is the least accurate. The USGA runs the handicapping system for golfers, enabling it to come up with a precise average for male -- and female -- golfers who obtain a handicap. But "Golf Digest" says the majority of golfers don't have an official USGA handicap, and these golfers tend to shoot much higher scores. Still, there are various ways to estimate the scores of an average golfer with a fair degree of accuracy.
Golfers who consistently make a bogey on a hole, which is one over the par of a hole, are often considered to be average golfers. This results in a handicap of about 20 on a course of standard difficulty, which translates to a score in the 90s. According to the USGA, a male bogey golfer hits tee shots in the 200-yard range and has the ability to reach a 370-yard hole in two shots. The male bogey golfer qualifies an an average golfer under USGA standards, but he's actually 10 strokes or so better than a truly average golfer.
The "Official" Average
The USGA says that the average golfer in its system carries about a 15.0 handicap. This translates into an average score of about 90, close to that of a bogey golfer. But "Golf Digest" notes that most golfers don't participate in the USGA system. And because most golfers without handicaps are occasional players who generally shoot higher than 100, the official USGA average score is artificially low.
The "True" Average
"Golf Digest" handicapping consultant Dean Knuth says that "if we're talking about all golfers -- those with handicaps and those without -- the average score would be more than 100." There's no way to prove that assertion. But if you spend time at any public golf course, you'll see enough duck hooks, shanks, and whiffs to support Knuth's claim.
Profile of an Average Golfer
In an article comparing male pros to male amateurs of various skill levels, "Golf Digest" offers more detailed profiles than just raw scores. For example, PGA Tour pros hit the fairway with 63 percent of their drives. A 20-handicap golfer, a bit better than a "true" average golfer, finds the short grass 43 percent of the time. The pros hit 62 percent of greens in regulation compared with 22 percent by 20-handicappers. Pros get it up and down 56 percent of the time when they miss a green; 20-handicappers only convert 21 percent of the time.