Par is the number of shots (or strokes) a top-class golfer is expected to take to play each hole based on its length and difficulty.
It also refers to an expected total of shots for the whole round of 18 holes.
Par for a course usually ranges between 70 and 72 shots but most golfers never match that.
Par for a hole is usually between three and five shots, although there a couple of par sixes in America.
Golf scoring terms
Albatross: Three shots less than par
Eagle: Two shots less
Birdie: One shot less
Bogey: One shot more
Double bogey: Two shots more
Triple bogey: Three shots more Contd....
If you take four shots on a par-four hole you make par.
But if you do better or worse than that you're introduced to some funny names.
Take three shots on a par-four hole (i.e. one less than par) and you call it a birdie.
Take five shots on a par-four hole (i.e. one shot more than par) and you've got a bogey.
These are just names though.
What counts is the number of shots you play on each hole, which are added together for your total score for the round.
Par three holes tend to be less than 250 yards in length for men and 220 for women.
They work on the idea that you can hit the green in one shot and then you have two putts to score par, in this case a three.
Par four holes range from a little less than 300 to over 450 yards.
You'd hope to reach the green in two shots, leaving two putts for par.
Par five holes tend to be longer than 480 yards. There are a few par six holes in the world - usually more than 600 yards long.
Getting to the green in less than three shots is very difficult. Again that will leave two putts for par.