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What is a Birdie in Golf?

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what is a birdie in golf

In golf, achieving a birdie is considered quite the feat. But what exactly is a birdie? A birdie occurs when the player hits the ball into the hole in one stroke less than par for that hole. For example, if you’re playing a par 3 and take 2 strokes to get the ball in the hole. Or 3 strokes to get the ball in the hole for a par 4. And, you guessed it, 4 strokes on a par 5.

Here at The Golf Experts, we’ve researched this term a bit more so you don’t have to. Here’s some more useful information on what is a birdie in golf.

How to calculate your birdie (including handicap adjustment)

You need to use your handicap when calculating whether or not you’ve scored a birdie. Let’s look at a few examples

Golfer A has a handicap of 28. This means they get 2 extra shots on holes with a stroke index 1-10. They get 1 extra shot on holes with a stroke index of 11-18. If the stroke index 1 hole is a par 4, then golfer A’s par is 6 shots (Because they get 2 extra shots). If golfer A takes 5 shots to get the ball in the hole, then they will have a birdie according to their handicap. If the stroke index 18 hole is a par 3, then golfer A’s par is 4 shots (Because they get 1 extra shot). If golfer A takes 3 shots to get the ball in the hole, then they will also have a birdie according to their handicap.

Golfer B has a handicap of 10. This means they only get 1 extra shot on holes with a stroke index 1-10. And no extra shots on holes with a stroke index of 11-18. If the stroke index 1 hole is a par 4, then golfer B’s par is 5 shots (Because they get 1 extra shot). If golfer B takes 4 shots to get the ball in the hole, then they will have a birdie according to their handicap. If the stroke index 18 hole is a par 3, then golfer A’s par is 3 shots (Because they get no extra shot). Golfer A has to take 2 shots to get the ball in the hole to score a birdie.

what is a birdie in golf

The history of the golfing term birdie

There are many theories as to where the term birdie originated from. One theory is that it came from old American slang. “Bird” was used as a word to describe something wonderful or great. In September 1911, Maclean Magazine described a particular golf shot as a “bird” straight down the fairway, well over two hundred yards. 

Another theory is that golfers would use a Birdie to refer to a small bird. This was because when golf first began golf balls were made of feathers stuffed into leather pockets. Some also believe that the term comes from 19th-century Scotland – the sounds made by different animals being used for golf terms.

However, most experts agree that it was a 1903 golf game in Atlantic City Country Club, New Jersey where the term birdie was first brought to the game. The course even installed a plaque to celebrate the event!

Using the term birdie to signify a score that is one stroke less than par, only became popular in the 1910s.

Birdies are difficult to score in golf

Look at these PGA tour stats for the 2022 season. These are the best players in the world. But the average number of birdies per round is 3.64. The highest is 4.63. This should go some way in telling you just how hard a birdie is to achieve. Most professionals record most of their birdies on par 5s. So give yourself a huge pat on the back if you score a birdie. And at the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t.

How to score a birdie in golf

You’ll need to muster up all your golfing skills and a bit of luck to get a birdie. You need to hit a good drive, a solid approach shot, and hit a good putt. 

Your tee shot is the most important part because if you can’t get the ball on the fairway, then you’re going to have a difficult time getting on the green in two shots. When lining up your tee shot, take a look at the fairway. Are there out-of-bounds? Any water hazards? Which side of the fairway gives you the most direct route into the green? Statistically, you have a higher chance of scoring a birdie the closer to the green your tee shot lands. So try, where possible, to hit your tee shot with your driver

The approach shot is also important because if you’re not on the green, then you’re going to have to rely on your short game to get up and down for your birdie. Make sure you choose the correct club for the shot. Statistically, higher handicappers always come up short when hitting an approach shot. If the distance to the hole is an in-between club’s distance, make sure you use a club that won’t leave you short. For example, let’s say you hit your 7 iron 170 yards. And your 8 iron 160 yards. The distance to the hole is 165 yards. Instead of trying to hit your 8 iron a bit harder, try hitting a nice smooth 7 iron

The Cut line

Knowing that even the pros don’t score that many birdies should put the wonderful game of golf in perspective. It’s hard enough shooting par let alone a birdie. so don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss that 10-footer for a birdie. So get out on the course, enjoy yourself and treasure the moments when you do score a birdie!

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AUTHOR

Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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