What is a "Birdie" in Golf? | Scoring Terms Explained

What is a Birdie in Golf?

In golf, a "Birdie" occurs when a golfer scores one under par on a single golf hole. Examples of birdies include:

  • 2 strokes on a par 3 hole
  • 3 strokes on a par 4 hole
  • 4 strokes on a par 5 hole

Birdies in the PGA Tour

While it may seem like professional golfers are always getting birdies, they're rarer for even the best golfers than you may think.

In 2019, the Tour average number of birdies per round was 3.68 in the TOUR Championship. Justin Thomas led the way, averaging 4.58 birdies per round.

However, keep in mind that these numbers are achieved at challenging courses during the most extreme conditions. Elite golfers playing at your local club on a random day would likely fair far better.

Birdies for Average Players

For the rest of us non-elite golfers, birdies are quite rare. Don't feel bad about getting super excited any time you score one under par.

MyGolfSpy and TheGrint (a Golf GPS and Stat Tracker/Handicap App) looked at how often birdies or better, pars, bogeys, double bogeys, and triple bogeys or worse occurred for golfers of various handicaps.

Birdies, Pars, Bogeys Per Handicap (Source MyGolfSpy)

They found that even golfers with handicaps of 6-10 only get 0.9 birdies per round. In other words, golfers of that skill level or worse are more likely not to get a birdie in 18 holes than to get a birdie in 18 holes.

It wasn't until golfers were within a 1-5 handicap that they started averaging at least 1 birdie per round.

Considering the average golfer has a handicap in the 16-20 range, this data tells us that the average golfer only averages 0.3 birdies per round.

Big Birds

Scores even lower than 1 under par are named after particularly impressive species of birds. It's said that this originated as a way to explain a "big bird" or a more remarkable bird.

An "eagle" is a score of 2 under par on an individual hole, and an "albatross" is a score of 3 under par on an individual hole.

Learn more golf scoring terms.