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Why Does Golf Use Bird Names? (Explained)

When it comes to golf terms, it’s easy to see the association between birds and golf.

Whether it is a birdie or an eagle, the golf course is commonly going to see bird names being said out loud.

This will make you wonder, why does golf use bird names?

Golf uses bird names because its initial scoring system started with the term “birdie” (one under par). This 20th-century term was used as a slang word for cool and it carried on into the sport of golf. To continue this pattern, the remaining scores were also named after birds such as bogey, eagle, and hawk.

Bird names in golf have become quite common over the years. It is now a tradition and the only way golf is scored.

This guide is going to help show why golf uses bird names including listing the different golf bird names out there.

Reasons Golf Uses Bird Names

To gain a better understanding of these golf bird names, you will need to learn a little bit about the origin story.

It all started in the 20th century when golf was being played by a small group of enthusiasts. At the time, it was common to score with numbers, and specific terms were not used for different golf scores.

This changed when one day the score one under par was given the moniker “birdie” by an individual.

Why was this the case?

Birdie at the time was a slang word that stood for “cool” in the 20th century. Just like slang words these days, it was something that was popular among the populace and therefore it got attached to the game of golf in the form of its scoring.

Due to the golf bird name for birdie, it was decided the same pattern had to be used for all of the other possible scores.

This would create a bit of uniformity in the scoring system making it easier to keep track of a golfer’s score.

This led to scores such as eagle, bogey, and hawk.

Different Golf Bird Names

1. Birdie

Why is it called birdie in golf?

Birdie was a slang term used to describe anything that was cool. This term was associated with birds because that is what the term was suggesting.

Golfers at the time stated getting a score one under par was cool.

This meant anything that was like this would be called a birdie. It quickly caught on at the time in 1903 and it was passed on from one golfer to the next as the way to say this type of score.

It is commonly stated that the birdie was the first bird name in golf. The rest came after this to help create a bit of balance.

2. Eagle

What is an eagle in golf?

An eagle refers to a score two under par. The reason this was done came down to wanting to elevate the status of this score because it was supposed to be better than a simple birdie.

As a result, a bigger and more American bird was found to be the right answer for a score two under par in golf.

This is when the eagle was deemed to be the right term for the score. The simplicity in how the golf score was named illustrates the goal was to keep things easy to understand for those who were tracking the score.

why does golf use bird names

3. Bogey

What is a bogey in golf?

A bogey refers to a score of one over par. This is deemed to be going in the opposite direction of the birdie and eagle or even the albatross.

A bogey is another bird name in golf that is named after the nemesia bird. This bird is also called the bogey bird.

Why was this the name chosen for the score? It had to do with the nemesia bird often missing critters once when they were hunting and that is quite similar to scoring one over par in golf.

4. Hawk

What is a hawk in golf?

A hawk in golf refers to a score of two strokes over par. Another term that is used to describe this golf score would be a double bogey. These are synonymous with each other and it comes down to what a golfer prefers.

The hawk was a simple choice for the score as it had to be a prominent bird everyone was aware of.

This is why the hawk was chosen as a name for the score of two over par. However, it is more common for people on the PGA tour to use the term double bogey instead.

why does golf use bird names

5. Albatross

What is an albatross in golf?

An albatross is a golf name given to a score of three under par. This is a rare score but it is one that does have a name. The albatross name comes from the albatross bird species. This is a seabird group that is commonly found in various parts of the world.

Due to the rarity of seeing these birds in other parts of the land, it is apt for the albatross to be used to name a rare score such as three under par.

why does golf use bird names

What Is An Ostrich In Golf?

An ostrich in golf refers to a score of five under par. Yes, five under par is a real score in golf and can be seen on par-6 or par-7 holes.

Of course, this is a rare sight and it is impossible for this to happen on a par-5 golf hole.

The reason it is given the name ostrich is to remain in line with the golf bird names that were used for the other scores.

Once again, this is a rare, big bird that is used to describe such a rare score. Most golfers are never going to see this score on their scorecard as it is only possible with rare par-6 or par-7 holes.

why does golf use bird names

What Is A Duck In Golf?

A duck in golf refers to a specific type of result from a golf shot. This is when a ball lands and then immediately hooks to the right or left. This is then referred to as being a duck or a duck hook.

The term is readily used for this type of shot and it does happen depending on how the golf ball lands and the conditions.

why does golf use bird names

What Is A Phoenix In Golf?

A phoenix in golf is one of the most rare scores in golf. It is when the score on a hole is six under par. Yes, six over par is only possible on a par-7 hole. For all other holes, this is an impossible score to obtain.

Just like the ostrich is used fora score of five under par, this is even more rare as a score of six under par.

What Is A Turkey In Golf?

A turkey in golf refers to a type of golf game that is played. This is a rare game that is often played for fun as a way to help enjoy Thanksgiving during that time of the year.

It is common for turkeys to be given out as prizes for those who win the hole.

why does golf use bird names

Final Thoughts

Why does golf use bird names?

Golf uses bird names because in the 20th century, an individual used the term “birdie” to describe a score of one under par. This caught on as it was a slang term to describe cool things. Once this was popular, the remaining scoring names were also given bird names.

The history of golf is unique and a lot has happened over the years.

The bird names in golf are a part of that rich history and only add to its allure as a sport. As you put on your golf shoes and find the right golf clothes to wear, it is always nice to find out more about the sport’s origin.