Why is it Called a Birdie in Golf

By Bob Williams

August 3, 2023

Have you ever wondered why a small successful shot in golf is called a birdie? What started as an innocent joke amongst golfers has since grown into one of the sport’s most beloved and endearing terms.

From its humble origins at the turn-of-the-century to its current worldwide application, the story of this whimsical moniker sheds light on how even everyday language can evolve over time. In this blog post, we will explore why it’s called a birdie in golf and trace its unique journey from a laughably obscure origin to a familiar phrase on the greens today.

Exploring the Origins of the Term “Birdie” in Golf

Golf is an impressive and ancient game that has evolved into today’s popular and esteemed sport. Throughout the centuries, golf enthusiasts have come up with various terminologies that have become synonymous with the game.

One of these is “birdie,” a term used to describe scoring one under par in a single hole. The question is, where did the term “birdie” come from? Although different theories attempt to explain the origin of the term, the most prevailing theory points to a possible correlation between bird hunting and golf. Either way, the term “birdie” has become an integral part of golf, and while its exact origin may be unclear, its significance in the sport is undeniable.

Early References to a “Bird” in Golf Records

One particular aspect of that history that has garnered interest from golf enthusiasts is the early references to a “bird” in golf records. While the exact meaning of this term is unclear, it is believed to refer to a round played with a score of one under par. These early references appear in records dating back to the 19th century, and continue to be a topic of discussion among golfers and historians alike. Understanding the origins and meaning of this mysterious term is just one way to unlock this beloved sport’s fascinating history.

How Scoring a Birdie Came to Be an Advantage for Golfers

Golf is a sport known for its precision and strategy, where every stroke counts towards a player’s overall score. So, it’s no wonder that a birdie – scoring one stroke under par on a hole – has become a coveted achievement for golfers. But how did this term come to be? Legend has it that a bird was once used to describe an exceptional shot in cricket, and when golf became popular in the 19th century, the term carried over. Today, scoring a birdie is seen as a significant advantage for golfers, boosting their confidence and giving them a slight edge over their opponents. It’s a small triumph that can make all the difference in a game where every stroke counts.

The Many Different Types of Birdies That Can Be Achieved on a Course

On a golf course, there’s nothing quite like that feeling of satisfaction when you hit a perfect shot, especially when it results in a “birdie” on the scorecard. But did you know that many different types of birdies can be achieved on a course?

From the classic “regular” birdie, which means finishing a hole one stroke under par, to more rare types like “eagle” (two strokes under par) or “albatross” (three strokes under par), golfers have a whole world of birdie possibilities at their fingertips. And let’s not forget the elusive “hole-in-one”, the ultimate birdie achievement. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a weekend warrior, earning a birdie of any kind is always a thrilling accomplishment on the course.

A Look at the Development of the Scorecard and Its Impact on the Popularity of Birdies

The game of golf has evolved greatly over the years, and one of the most significant changes has been the development of the scorecard. Originally, players simply kept track of their shots and tallied them up at the end of the round. But with the advent of the scorecard, tracking individual hole scores became much easier, allowing players to better monitor their progress throughout the round. This innovation not only made the game more organized, but it also had a profound impact on the popularity of birdies.

Suddenly, these impressive shots became much more meaningful, as they not only helped players lower their overall score but also provided a sense of accomplishment on individual holes. Today, the scorecard remains a vital part of the game of golf, providing structure and motivation for players worldwide.


With golf being one of the oldest and most popular sports, it is interesting to explore the mysterious origins of its terminology. Perhaps the term “birdie” is one of the earliest to stick, as records show references to “birds” dating back well over a century. This term would grow in popularity and become widely known during the 20th century with the development of scorecards and contributions from various organizations such as Audubon Society.

As for what scores a birdie today, there is no universal consensus, and it ultimately depends on the golfer’s ability to achieve a lower-than-par score with their overall performance. What can not be denied, however, is that players both on the pro tour and at your local course love these “birdies”; birdies are where memories are made! So whether you’re out teeing off in hopes of achieving an eagle, sinking that last putt at pars, or whizzing by those pesky bunkers with chip shots that eventually yield birdies – remember that golfers have been honoring these lower-than-par scores with this nickname for much longer than anyone can remember!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a birdie in golf?

A birdie is a score of one stroke under par on a given hole.

2. How did the term “birdie” originate?

The origin of the term “birdie” is somewhat unclear, but it is believed that it derived from bird hunting and may have been used by early golfers to describe an exceptional shot.

3. What other types of scores can be achieved on a golf course?

Other than a birdie, which is one stroke below par, there are also eagles (two strokes below par), albatross (three strokes below par), and hole-in-one (an ace, completing the hole in one stroke).

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