Skip to main content

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.

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
These are the can’t-miss golf courses to play in Ireland
Check out one of these incredible golf courses on your next trip to Ireland
Ballybunion Golf Club


The "Emerald Isle" is not only celebrated for its lush landscapes, historic castles, and vibrant culture but also for its world-class golf courses. For golf enthusiasts seeking a memorable challenge, Ireland should be next on your list. From the rugged coastlines of County Kerry to the rolling hills of County Wicklow, each region boasts unique courses that blend natural beauty with rich golfing heritage.

Read more
What does par mean in golf?
What does par mean in golf? Better understand golf lingo to up your game
A person taking a swing on the golf course.

Trying to keep score in sports like basketball is pretty simple. There are only a few ways to score, and it's all number-based, so keeping track of what shot gets you what points isn't hard to remember. But in a sport like golf, not only is the scoring a little different, the points aren't always tracked in numbers. Get a birdie? Have a handicap? What about par? What does par mean in golf? Here's how to understand this golf term so you can focus on your swing.
What does par means in golf

In its most basic definition, par is the predetermined number of strokes it will take a player with a zero handicap to finish a hole, round, or course, with room for two strokes on the putting green. To completely understand it, you need to know what a handicap in golf is.
Handicap rundown
A handicap is simply the number of strokes a golfer will take over or under the par number. If the 18-hole round you are playing is a 72-par course, and it takes you 85 swings to finish, subtract 85 from 72, and you are left with a 13 handicap.

Read more
Want to climb to the top of the world? Here’s how long it takes to climb Mount Everest
How long does an ascent of Mount Everest really take?
Mount Everest with prayer flags in the foreground

The prospect of standing on top of the world has lured thousands of mountain climbers to Mount Everest since the first successful attempt by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay 70 years ago. Commercial expeditions began in the 1990s, and since then — not counting the 2015 season disrupted by the catastrophic earthquake or the recent Covid-affected seasons — the number of climbers has increased dramatically.

Climbing Mount Everest may be popular, but the difficulty of reaching the highest point on earth should not be underplayed. Ignoring the hefty price tag associated with an Everest expedition, there's the sheer physical exertion of climbing to that altitude. Unless you plan to recreate Killian Jornet's feat of summiting twice in one week without supplementary oxygen — don't try this — then you'll need to set aside serious time for your ascent to the top of the world. So exactly, how long does it take to climb Mount Everest?
Mount Everest climbing timeline

Read more