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What is a birdie in golf?

What is a birdie in golf? It has nothing to do with making sure you don't hurt the wildlife

Man golfing at a club.
Jason Pofahl / Unsplash

On par. Bogey. Birdie. No, we aren’t making up words. But if you’ve played golf, heard any of these, and thought people were speaking nonsense only they understood, you might want to gain this golf game knowledge. What is a birdie in golf? Even if you have no aspirations to be a professional player, those who understand as many aspects of the game as they can play better and enjoy the game more. If you thought a birdie in golf was making sure you don’t hit a bird with the ball, this is what it really means.

What a birdie in golf is

People out on the golf course.
Peter Drew / Unsplash

What is a birdie in golf? In the simplest terms, a birdie is when it takes a golfer one stroke less (or one less swing of the golf club) than what the par of the hole is. If the hole is par 3, and the golfer lands it in 2 strokes, they hit a birdie.

It would probably help to understand what par is, as well. Par is the number of strokes needed for that hole. If a hole is par 4, it should take you four strokes to get the ball in the hole. Courses are made up of par 3, par 4, and par five holes. You would need to hit each hole one under whatever the par is to hit a birdie.

The opposite of birdie

Everything has an opposing force, and golf is no exception. The opposite of hitting a birdie is hitting a bogey. If hitting one under is a birdie, hitting one over is a bogey. If you take four strokes on a par 3, that’s a bogey. For fun, on par means the person hit the exact number for par. If you took four strokes on a par four hole, then you hit on par.

Can a birdie and a bogey cancel each other out? Absolutely, they can. The two sides of the force are battling it out on the green. At each hole, golfers tally up the score to see how they did, and the score could constantly change. A player could go from hitting a birdie to on par to hitting a bogey to back on par all round long.

Backstory on the term

Two people looking at each other while holding their golf clubs over their shoulders
Courtney Cook / Unsplash

You can thank (or be mad at) our friends in New Jersey for this one. The term gained popularity on the green at the Atlantic City Country Club in 1903, modeled after 1900s slang meaning something good, great, or wonderful happening. When it first was used or where isn’t exactly known, but New Jersey took it and ran, and it has stuck ever since.

The birdie record

Brian Harman from Savannah, Georgia, has the most career birdies, with 4,155 captured. It’s that lefty power. During the big tournaments, keeping track of the most birdies ever, most birdies per round, most birdies in a row, and more earn players bragging rights.

You are a golfer who knows all verbiage for everything to the point you might annoy your fellow players, or you go and swing out the stress of the day and hope for the best. Whichever kind of golfer you are, knowing the basic terms will help you better understand the game, which may result in a better score. Make getting at least one birdie on your scorecard a goal during your next 18.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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