Birdie, Bogey and more: Explaining the often confusing golf scoring terms

Golf is one of the more storied sports in the world. It has often been considered a true test of patience, grit, determination and talent. No wonder, that top golfers all around the world are so well-known and one of the highest earning stars in all of sports.

Golf, however, is also one of the more confusing sports; especially for people who are new to it. Most of the major questions arise regarding the scoring metrics in the game. To help reduce the confusions and inform new viewers, here’s a quick guide:

Par: This is the golden term to understand while tackling the complicated golf scoring terms. Par refers to the number of expected strokes, an expert golfer, takes to complete one hole.

This also leads to every hole on a course being rated as ‘par-n’ where ‘n’ is the number of expected strokes taken to complete a hole.

Thus, a ‘par-3’ hole is one where an expert golfer is expected to finish it in three strokes. In ‘par-4’ it is four strokes and ‘par-5’, well you get my drift. ‘Par-6’ strokes exist but are rarely encountered.

Under-Par: Now that you understand the concept of ‘par’, let’s move on to what happens when one finishes a hole in less than the number of expected strokes.

When one takes lesser than the expected number of strokes to finish a hole, he/she is said to be under par. The term ‘n-under par’ refers to how many strokes one is under-par on a hole, with ‘n’ signifying the number.

The numerous under-par scores are known by corresponding terms as well.

Birdie: A birdie is ‘1-under par’. It means you took one stroke less than expected number of strokes to finish a hole.

Eagle: An eagle is ‘2-under par’. It means you took two strokes less than the expected number of strokes to finish a hole

Double Eagle: A double eagle is ‘3-under par’. It is a very rare occurrence and means that a golfer took three less strokes than the expected number to finish a hole. It is more commonly referred to as an albatross, except in the US where double-eagle is more common.

Hole-in-one: As the name suggests, it means you finish the hole in one shot itself. Also called an ace. In case of a par-5 hole, a hole-in-one would mean you’re 4-under par. The golf world calls such an occurrence, a condor.

Over par: Under-par is taking lesser than the expected number of strokes to complete a hole. Over par is the opposite wherein you take more than the expected number of strokes to complete a hole. 

Bogey: A bogey is ‘1-over par’. It means one took a stroke more than expected number to finish a hole.

Unlike the ‘under par’ terms, there are no fancy names to refer to over par terms. They’re referred to as bogey with a prefix to determine how over par one was. Examples are double bogey (2-over par), triple bogey (3-over par), quintuple bogey (5-over par) and so on and so forth.

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