Par For The Course

Meaning:

What you would expect to happen; something normal or common.

Example: Calvin lived in Greenland for much of his life. The weather there was cold all year round. After moving to California, it took him awhile to become acquainted to the warmer weather. Not only that, but Calvin wasn’t fond of how many more bugs there were. Why were there so many? “Because the weather is warmer here, you will see more bugs than you do back in Greenland. That’s par for the course,” his neighbor told him.

In other words, his neighbor was saying it’s normal for there to be more bugs warmer temperatures.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. About what I expected
2. Run of the mill
Golf, a par three for the course.
The par for this hole is 3 strokes.

Origin Of ‘Par For The Course’

This phrase is believed to have originated from the sport of golfing. In golf, the term ‘par’ is a common one. It means that each individual hole, or in some cases the entire course, has a set number of strokes an experienced golfer is expected to take in order to finish it.

As an example, imagine yourself being on a golf course and you arrive at a ‘par-five hole.’ That means this hole should take an experienced golfer a total of 5 strokes, or swings, to complete. If a golfer successfully finishes the par-five hole with five strokes, then he is said to have scored a par, because he scored evenly with the set number of strokes the hole asked for.

Because a “par” is considered to be a “normal” score and many golfers are expected to finish at or around the given par number, eventually, the saying ‘par for the course’ expanded beyond just a typical game of golf, and it started to be used for anything that is normal or expected.

The earliest written form of the phrase I could find being used outside the context of golf and in a figurative way, was in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, May 1932:

“Whatever is to be done in Washington would better be done quickly. If the industry and business knew the par for the course people would be disposed to go ahead.”


Example Sentence(s)

  1. With dark clouds in the sky, it’s usually par for the course for rain to follow. So I need to hurry up and get my car inside the garage because its windshield is broken. I don’t want my car filling up with water.

Note: Finding the origins for many¬†popular sayings is difficult much of the time. This is because it’s hard to find the person or area where an idiom started from originally. When the origin of a phrase is unclear, what you will see listed are the theories for how a phrase may have originated, but it might not necessarily be the case, so keep that in mind.

Additionally, early written forms of a saying will be quoted and these most often come from old books, newspapers, poems, or plays. Their purpose is to give the reader an approximate for how long a phrase has been used for.