How “Bogey golf” Entered the Golf Lexicon

It seems the guy who came up with the Bogey Man must have been a golfer, because he lent his name to a golf score of 1-over par. “You better watch out or the Bogey Man’s gonna get you!”

According to the USGA Museum, “Bogey Man” was a character in a British song in the late 19th Century. He lived in the shadows and said in song, “I’m the Bogey Man, catch me if you can.”

The USGA writes, “British golfers of the era began chasing the Bogey Man on the golf course, meaning chasing after the perfect score.”

But wait, didn’t we call it the boogie man? That’s what American’s called him when I was a kid. This means he could boogie or dance…hmmm. What’s going on there. Imagine if you hit bogey on a hole and had a spin a jig or dance around the cup. Then that would be a true boogie-bogey score… (maybe)

Over time, golf adopted the term “bogey score” – but it denoted a great score, not a bad one. In other words, it was interchangeable, at that time, with the word “par.” hmmmm.

In the early part of the 20th Century, however, par began to be applied to the ideal score, while bogey gradually became applied to recreational golfers and a +1 over par score. From there, it was a short leap to its current mean of a score of 1-over par.

As “par” became the accepted term for a good score on a hole, “bogey” was applied to the higher score recreational golfers might expect to achieve. (source)

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