What is a Birdie in Golf?

Published on 03/14/2023 · 2 min readGolf expert Eric Hall shares the lowdown on common bird terms in golf.
Eric Hall, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Eric Hall

Photo by Vittorio Zamboni

If you’re new to golf, you might have noticed some interesting terminology used on the course. Albatross? Eagle? Ostrich? Turkey? What is up with all these bird names? To ease you into the lingo, I’ve broken down some of the common questions I’ve fielded as an expert here on Curated around key birds in golf.

What is a birdie in golf?

A birdie is when a golfer scores one stroke less than the listed par on the scorecard when completing the hole. For example, on a Par 5, a birdie would be scored if the golfer completed the hole in four strokes. A birdie is indicated with a single, unfilled circle on a scorecard.

What is an albatross in golf?

An albatross, or double eagle, is a score that can only be found on a par five and is when a golfer completes the hole in two strokes. His or her score would be listed as -3 for that hole alone. Due to the rarity of this shot occurring, the score was named after a bird species that nearly went extinct.

What is an eagle in golf?

An eagle is scored when a golfer completes a hole in two strokes less than the par listed for that hole. This usually occurs on a Par Five, but has happened frequently on driveable par fours as well. This score is indicated either with two unfilled circles around the number, or with a filled in circle on television broadcasts.

What is an ostrich in golf?

An ostrich is, according to golf lore, the score assigned to scoring five below par on a hole. On most traditional golf courses, this is not possible, as the lowest score possible on a par five is four under the assigned par. However, some courses have par sixes and sevens, so ostriches could have been made somewhere out there!

What is a turkey in golf?

Much like its counterpart in bowling, a turkey is the term assigned to scoring three birdies in a row in a single round. This is a difficult feat to accomplish, but scoring the turkey in a round is sure to have you and your friends talking for ages!

Why are golf terms named after birds?

According to American golf lore, the terms in golf that use bird names are thought to have originated out of the slang “bird” for anything deemed as excellent or cool. Thus, the use of bird names for good scores in golf and not for any of the bad scores.

Do you have any other questions about golf or how to improve your game with the right gear? Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf experts here on Curated anytime for free advice and recommendations.

Eric Hall, Golf Expert
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