What is a Birdie in Golf?: Clear All Your Doubts 2024

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Probably you are a beginner to the golf game or someone who has a piqued interest in the sport to wonder what is a birdie in golf. A birdie in golf is a score that’s -1 for the given hole. For instance, if a golfer is playing a par 5 hole, and he finishes that hole in 4 strokes, that’s a birdie for him. For a par 4, finishing it in 3 strokes will be a birdie. Similarly, for a par 3, a 2-stroke finish will be a birdie. Simple, isn’t it? At max, you can make 18 birdies in an 18-hole round of golf.

What is a Birdie in Golf?

Hold on, there is much more to it. Although the concept is simple and for a beginner you don’t want to complicate things. However, a clear understanding of what is a birdie in golf will build a deep foundation for your knowledge. In this blog, we will take you through the annals of history to the most recent statistics, covering everything in between so that the next time you make a birdie or see another golfer make it, you will know its significance.

What is a birdie in golf

As you read on, you will find interesting statistics about the Birdie Frequency, Distribution of Birdie Shots, Professional vs Amateur Birdie Stats, and Impact on your Handicap.

Birth of the Term Birdie

As you know, a bird glides through the air just like a golf ball glides on the golf course. Birdie is the depiction of a bird that knows its flight path and does not wander around (as most recreational golfers do in the rough, hazards, and bunkers). Just a like bird soars through the skies, the ball soars to the golf hole without undue distractions as if it means business.

Atlantic City Country Club, New Jersey

Now that we know what a birdie is in golf, let’s travel back to 1889 and meet Ab Smith at the Atlantic City Country Club who coined the basis of the term birdie. He did not exactly mention the word birdie but said ‘bird of a shot’. As we said earlier, the concept is not complex but making one is (pun intended).

So, Atlantic City Country Club is the birthplace of ‘Birdie’. and with the blink of an eye, this term traveled across most golf courses around the world. Today, millions of people speak this word on and off the golf course and it is one of the most sought-after golf scoring terms.

Following is the data of the most birdies since 2010.

most birdies

How Birdies are Scored?

As discussed earlier, a birdie is a one-stroke under par. There is neither a set of rules nor restrictions on how to score a birdie as long as it is one under par. Let us show you some possible scenarios to get you a clear idea, however, these are not just limited to these. ONE UNDER PAR, that’s a birdie.

Examples of Birdies’

Before we talk more about birdies, let’s establish that the putting stroke that could lead to a birdie is also known as birdie putt. A Birdie putt could be short or long.

  • A golfer decides to take a risk on a difficult par-5 hole by attempting to reach the green in two shots. They execute a perfect second shot and make a birdie putt.
  • A golfer hits a solid tee shot for a par 4. Next up he hits a near-the-pin approach shot. Lastly, sinks the putt and makes a birdie.
  • On a par-3 hole, a golfer’s tee shot lands inches from the cup. They tap in for a birdie putt.
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However, in most cases, things are not this simple. Sometimes golfers get good breaks on the golf courses and sometimes they execute the perfect shots but the golf course simply won’t allow them a birdie because of bad breaks in the individual golf hole.

Below are the birdie distribution stats that show how most of the birdies are scored.

birdies in golf

How is a Birdie Mentioned on a Golf Score Card?

In golf scoring terms, a circle is identified as a birdie. Whenever you see a golfer’s score card and see circles around some golf scores, know that those are birdies. If you are playing golf and score a birdie (one stroke under par), encircle the score for that hole.

Similarly, if you watch the PGA, DP World Tour, or LIV Golf on television, they will encircle the birdies when they show the scorecard.

what's a birdie in golf

Significance of Birdies

Birdies are a great confidence booster for any golfer irrespective of their skill levels. You will see a PGA professional equally happy as any amateur or beginner after making a birdie. They have great significance as they impact the overall performance.

Following is the yearly data of the best birdie pct for par 3, 4, and 5.

Best birdie conversion

Achieving birdies is a primary objective for golfers. These reflect their skill and consistency. This highlights the precise shots, strategic decision-making, and adept putting.

For professional golfers, birdies are the key to tournament victories and higher earnings. According to CBS Sports, for the 2022-23 PGA season, Eric Cole made the highest number of birdes which is 526 whereas William McGirt has made the lowest which is 153. In amateur golf, birdies add to the enjoyment and motivation to improve.

When it comes to the best birdie conversion, the following graph shows the best of the best in the sport.

what a birdie is in golf

How to Score Birdies

This is one of the most important questions for golfers. Because a correct answer will set the course of an average golfer to a seasoned golfer and ultimately to an expert golfer. Following are some tips to bring consistency and improve performance with fewer strokes.

Mental Focus

Develop a strong mental game. Stay focused on the current shot, not dwelling on past mistakes or future challenges. Visualization of a successful birdie putt can boost confidence.

Course Management

Plan your shots strategically. Position yourself for easier approach shots, and avoid high-risk plays. Smart management of golf courses minimizes errors.

Short Game Mastery

Hone your short-game skills, especially putting and chipping. Consistency in these areas can lead to more birdie opportunities. Try to avoid two putts. You will feel as if your golf ball is obeying you.

Adept Putting

Become a confident putter. Work on reading greens, finding the right speed, and maintaining a smooth stroke. Confidence in your putting game is key to sinking birdie putts.

Physical Fitness

Maintain good physical condition. Strength and flexibility contribute to better swings and stamina throughout the round.

Stay Positive

Cultivate a positive attitude. Resilience in the face of setbacks and a belief in your ability to make birdies are vital. Positivity keeps your mental state strong.

These tips combine mental strength, skill development, and a strategic approach to enhance your chances of making birdies while keeping the game enjoyable and rewarding.

Following are the guides on the best golf balls that will improve your game.

If you are unsure what to look for, visit our Golf Ball Compression chart guide which will take you through the process of finding the best ball for you.

Famous Birdies in Golf

Following are some of the most famous birdies in golf. These famous shots not only defined the moments but also left a lasting legacy in the history of golf, showcasing the skill, determination, and flair of some of the sport’s greatest players.

Best Birdies of All Time 1
  • Jack Nicklaus – 17th Hole at the 1986 Masters

Nicklaus, at age 46, made a remarkable birdie putt on the 17th hole during the final round of the Masters, which eventually led to his historic win. It’s one of the most iconic birdies in golf history.

  • Tiger Woods – 16th Hole at the 2005 Masters

In 2005, Tiger Woods delivered an unforgettable chip-in birdie on the 16th hole at Augusta National during the final round. The ball paused on the lip of the hole before dropping, creating a lasting image.

  • Ben Hogan – 18th Hole at the 1950 U.S. Open

Hogan’s legendary 1-iron approach shot on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open secured him a birdie and a playoff victory, marking one of the most iconic moments in golf history.

  • Phil Mickelson – 13th Hole at the 2010 Masters

Mickelson’s daring second shot from the pine straw on the 13th hole paved the way for a crucial birdie during his 2010 Masters victory.

  • Tom Watson – 17th Hole at Turnberry in 1977

Watson’s birdie on the 71st hole of the 1977 Open Championship helped him secure the title in one of the sport’s greatest duels against Jack Nicklaus.

  • Arnold Palmer – 18th Hole at Cherry Hills in 1960

Palmer’s incredible drive on the final hole of the 1960 U.S. Open set up a birdie that contributed to his historic comeback win.

  • Rory McIlroy – 16th Hole at Congressional in 2011

McIlroy’s birdie on the 16th hole during the 2011 U.S. Open showcased his prodigious talents and played a key role in his record-setting victory.

  • Seve Ballesteros – 18th Hole at St. Andrews in 1984

Ballesteros’ remarkable birdie putt on the iconic 18th hole at St. Andrews helped him secure his second Open Championship.

Spieth’s adventurous birdie on the 16th hole, featuring a remarkable recovery shot, was pivotal to his victory in the 2017 Open Championship.

  • Lee Trevino – 17th Hole at Muirfield in 1972

Trevino’s birdie on the difficult 17th hole at Muirfield in the 1972 Open Championship was a standout moment in his legendary career.

Other Golf Terms

Following is a brief introduction of the remaining golf terms. Each golf term holds a great significance in understanding as well as playing golf.

Golf Terms on Scorecard 1
  1. Albatross/Double Eagle

An “albatross” in golf is the term used when a player scores three strokes under par on a single hole. It’s one of the rarest and most impressive achievements, also known as a “double eagle.”

  1. Eagle

An “eagle” happens when a golfer completes a hole in two strokes under par. It’s a significant accomplishment and signifies excellent play on a hole.

  1. Par

“Par” represents the standard number of strokes a skilled golfer should take to complete a hole. It’s neither a birdie nor a bogey.

  1. Bogey

A “bogey” is when a player completes a hole in one stroke over par. It’s a common score for many golfers on various holes.

  1. Double Bogey

A “double bogey” indicates a score of two strokes over par on a hole, reflecting a tougher time on that particular hole.

  1. Triple Bogey

A “triple bogey” means a golfer took three strokes more than par on a hole, which is considered a struggle.

  1. Quadruple Bogey

A “quadruple bogey” golf term represents a score of four strokes over par on a hole, indicating significant difficulties during that hole.

If you know these 8 golf terms and the word birdie, this fully encapsulates the knowledge to understand any golf scorecard.

People Also Ask

How Many Shots is a Birdie?

One under par is known as a birdie. If a golfer completes the par 5 in 4 strokes, he has made a birdie.

How Many Birdies do Professional Golfers Typically Make in a Round?

The number of birdies made by professional golfers in a round can vary widely depending on the golfer’s skill, the course difficulty, and the tournament. As per the sources of the United States Golf Association, on average, most golfers make 3-5 birdies per round.

Are There Any Famous Instances of Multiple Birdies in a Row in Professional Golf?

Yes, there are many famous instances of consecutive birdies in professional golf. A notable example is Johnny Miller’s historic 8 birdies in a row during the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open. It’s a rare and memorable achievement in the sport.

Final Words

Achieving a birdie is not just about scoring below par; it’s a moment of triumph and the pursuit of excellence. So, the next time you step onto the course, remember the thrill of what is a birdie in golf.

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Hasnain Ali Tarar is a passionate golfer with a journey in the sport that began in 2016. With a golf handicap of 15, he brings a unique perspective to the world of golf blogging. His deep love for the game has driven him to explore every facet of it, from perfecting his swing on the course to evaluating the latest golf products. As the Content Manager at CanYouGolf, Hasnain combines his writing skills with his golfing expertise to provide readers with valuable insights, tips, and reviews that enhance their golfing experience.

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