What is a Birdie in Golf? Understanding The Basics

By Chris Moore •  Updated on 02/15/22

A birdie in golf is what you call an individual who has scored one or more strokes under par on the hole. In order to achieve this feat, the golfer must save one stroke on the hole; whether it’s their tee shot, approach, or putts.

Here are the different ways you can score a Birdie:

Why is it called a birdie?

The golf term “birdie” comes from the American slang term “little bird,” which meant something awesome.

There is a bit more history on the term birdie which we’ll go over right now!

In June of 1898, a golf course in Atlantic City was opened to help bring more people to the area.

The origin of the first birdie is disputed; there are several opinions about how, where, and when it was achieved. However, most of these sources agree that it took place at the club in Atlantic City with wagers on it.

One of the men, Abner Smith or Ab Smith, hit his ball within a few inches, he called it a ‘bird of shot,’ implying that if someone won a hole with a score under par in the future, they would get double money.

The other two members of the group agreed, and from this day they adopted the name ’birdie’ to describe this score.

The County Club officially dates this event to December 1903, but some histories have claimed it occurred a few years earlier; nowadays, there is a plaque at the Atlantic City Country Club in New Jersey related to the term birdie.

And in the early 1900s, the term birdie became widespread and commonly used around the world!

Are there any other types of birdies?

There are a few different types of birdies, but they all have different names.

For example, a double birdie is called an eagle. This occurs when a golfer scores two strokes under par on one hole.

And if you happen to score three strokes under par on one hole, it’s called a double eagle or albatross.

So while there are other types of birdies, they have their own terms to describe them.

How rare are birdies?

The PGA Tour average for birdies per round is 3.63 throughout the 2021 season. While this may not seem like a lot, it’s important to realize they play on the hardest courses in the world!

And for the top performers, Rory McIlroy and John Rahm averaged the highest amount of birdies, with 4.51 per round.

For comparison, the PGA Tour’s all-time record for birdies in an 18-hole round is 13. Chip Beck and Adam Hadwin have both accomplished the accomplishment twice, with Chip Beck doing so in 1991 and Adam Hadwin in 2017.

Average golfers will score about 0.3 birdies per round, well below the tour average while playing on much easier courses.

What is the most common way to score a birdie?

Birdies are most commonly scored by reaching the green-in-regulation and only needing one putt instead of two.

Of course, there are a lot of different ways you can score a birdie, but this is the most common.

In the end, it depends on your strengths, weaknesses, the hole you’re on, the course, and weather conditions!

If you take the time to plan out your approach, you’ll have a much better chance of scoring a birdie on any particular hole.

Chris Moore

Hi, I'm Chris Moore and I'm the guy behind As an avid golfer since 2010, I decided to create this blog to share everything I've learned over the years. Whether it's golf equipment, swing tips, or anything in-between, I want to make sure you have everything you need to become a better golfer.