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The sport of golf is an absolute minefield of assorted technical terminology that often means nothing to the casual observer.
After all, what golfing amateur knows how to pitch their ball onto the green with a bit of check before lagging it close for two-putt par?
Interestingly, a lot of these golf terms share a common avian theme, including words like eagle, albatross, and, of course, birdie!
In this article, we’ll be going over exactly what a birdie is in golf, why it’s important, and how to slip it into conversations with fellow golfers.
By the time you’re through reading this, you’ll be chatting like a golf pro in no time!
Definition Of Birdie
The term birdie refers to the way golf is scored. You may be aware that each hole on a golf course has a par, which is a certain number of strokes it should take the player to get to the hole.
For example, if the par for the hole is 3 and the player takes 3 strokes to get to the hole, their score is 0. Alternatively, if they take 2 strokes, their score will be -1 and if they take 4 strokes, their score will be +1.
A birdie is simply a score of one under the par for that hole or -1.
For instance, if a golfer gets a birdie on a hole, their score would be 1 under par. If they had a score of -2, then they’d have missed the birdie by one stroke.
Why Do We Call It A Birdie?
The origins behind the term ‘birdie’ are a little confused and nobody can be 100% certain where the phrase actually originated from.
Some believe that birdies are so named because they represent a great feat of skill and accuracy, and they’re usually achieved when a golfer makes a very long putt and thus “flies” past the hole.
Others think that the name comes from the 19th century when the term ‘bird’ was used as an adjective for something that we’d now describe as ‘cool’.
Therefore, when a golfer achieved a score of one under par, or -1, it was a cool thing to do and people would describe their play as a ‘birdie’.
Other Bird-Based Golf Terms
There are a couple of other similarly bird-themed golf terms that relate to a player’s score.
One such term is ‘eagle’, which simply means achieving a score of 2 under par or -2. There’s a similar theory behind the naming of this term as there is with ‘birdie’.
Essentially, if a score of -1 was impressive enough to earn the title of ‘birdie’, a score of -2 deserves the title of an even more impressive bird, such as an eagle.
The same is true (to an extent) of the term ‘albatross’, which refers to a score of 3 under par or -3.
In some cases, the term ‘double eagle is used to describe this type of score but albatross is equally acceptable.
It might be somewhat debatable whether an albatross is a more impressive bird than an eagle, but we’re not here to argue about that. It’s just the way golf works!
How To Use Birdie In Conversations With Other Golfers
Birdies are an impressive part of the game of golf. When you hit a good shot, you want to make sure that your friends know about it. This is especially true if you’ve been playing well and are trying to build up a reputation among your friends.
The word ‘birdie’ is most commonly used as a noun in golf conversations, rather than an adjective. This means it has the same role in a sentence as any other object like ‘ball’ or ‘club’.
For example, you wouldn’t say something like ‘that guy is a birdie player’ when referring to someone who gets a lot of birdies.
Of course, people would usually know what you mean, but it doesn’t quite sound right to an experienced golfer and might give off the impression that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Similarly, it’s not very common to use ‘birdie’ as a verb in a sentence, meaning something you would do.
For example, a sentence like ‘I birdied that last hole’ makes sense to any experienced golfer but still sounds a little strange.
Here are some examples of more appropriate uses of the word ‘birdie’:
- “I got a birdie on hole 8”
- “You’ll need a birdie to catch up to my score”
- “I played really well today and got two birdies”
How Hard Is It To Make A Birdie In Golf?
It’s important to remember that in a real game of golf, birdies are pretty difficult to make, and most good players won’t even get one on a hole with a par higher than 4. It takes a lot of skill and precision to get a birdie, even on a hole with a par as high as 5 or 6.
Most professional golf players won’t actually aim to make birdies or eagles on every hole they play, even in competitive tournaments. Instead, they’re much better off aiming to avoid unnecessary mistakes that would cause them to get a score over par.
In all honesty, the majority of people reading this are unlikely to ever score a birdie on a real hole of golf, simply because of how difficult it is. To get one, you need everything to go right, from the perfect drive to the carefully calculated putt, and everything in between.
However, it doesn’t make you a bad golfer if you can’t get a birdie in most games. Again, the best strategy for a real, competitive game of golf is to try to get to the par score on every hole and avoid making silly mistakes or going over par.
As long as you do that, eventually, the chance for a birdie might come your way.
A birdie is a great achievement in golf. It’s a sign that you’ve done something really well, and it’s a great thing to brag about to your friends.
But it’s also worth remembering that it’s not always easy to achieve, so don’t be too disappointed if you never manage to pull one off!