What is a Birdie in Golf?

A birdie in golf is one stroke under par for an individual golf hole.

On a par 3 a birdie is 2 strokes, on a par 4 a birdie is 3 strokes, and on a par 5 a birdie is 4 strokes.

They’re rare for most and elusive for all golfers. A birdie is part of a long list of golf scoring terms for what you can get on a hole of golf.

They make up for a nasty hole or two and are almost always exciting. Many have heard, “All it takes is one good shot for you to want to play again.”

A birdie, on the other hand, is enough to make you want to practice, play, and watch golf.

What is a Birdie in Golf?

The idea of par

On any given hole, the golf term “par” is an assigned number of strokes expected to complete the hole. Many amateur golfers assume this “par” number means average, but any given “par” is much lower than an average golfer will score on that hole.

Declaring the par for a hole

When par is declared for a golf hole, it always assumes two putts. And it should go without stating, but we’ll do it anyways; a tee shot is also always supposed.

The different numbers for par come from how many shots it’s expected for your ball to be on the putting surface. On a par 3, it’s one shot. On a par 4, it’s two shots. You get the idea.

How does Atlantic City Country Club tie in?

All golf terms have to originate somewhere. For the term “birdie,” that place is the Atlantic City Country Club. More specifically, one player. Ab Smith is credited for coming up with it during a match where the prize would double for holing out below par.

Spreading the new golf term golf course to golf course

You’ll find that most golf courses have their versions of golf terminology, some of which spreads to other courses and most of which does not. In the case of the “birdie,” the term traces its roots to the word “bird,” a phrase used to describe something of high quality.

At Atlantic City Country Club in 1898, a “bird of a shot” became the word “birdie,” and the rest is history.

Different Ways to Make a Birdie?

A birdie putt isn’t the only way to make a birdie. Whether you chip the ball in or knock it in from further away, it all counts the same. After all, there are no pictures on the scorecard, and holing out is just the same as tapping in a birdie putt from six inches.

You might find one or the other more exciting, but there’s no separate term for it. A score of one stroke below par is just that, no matter how you got there.

How Golf Courses Defend Against Birdies

A golf course does not want players to make birdies. You don’t make top-10 lists and tally accolades by being the most straightforward course in the area.

When an average player goes out there trying to test the course’s difficulty, they’d rather see them make a double bogey (two strokes over par) than an eagle (two strokes under par).

About The Author

Writers of Independent Golf Reviews
Independent Golf Reviews has tested and reviewed 1000+ golf products over the past 10 years. We use our experience and expertise to give golfers an unbiased insight on the market. 
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