Golf Birds: Golf Terms Explained

The game of golf got its start on the windy shores of St. Andrews along Scotland’s North Sea coast. The seaside locale clearly gave rise to commonly used golf terminology, like eagle, condor and birdie. Coastal areas attract many species of birds, like an albatross or a condor. Those species and many others now are commonly used terms in golf.

All those bird species and other commonly used terms can add up to a lot of confusion among players learning the game and many skilled amateurs. The following helps to explain them.  Hint, none of them require you to yell FORE! 

 What is a birdie in golf?

The commonly used term that all golfers and many who do not golf but watch on television refers to a score that is one stroke under par. If you are playing a par 3 hole and nail a great tee shot to the flag, an easy tap-in will give you a birdie score of 2, for example.

Putting together a streak of birdies can be very exciting.  Creating a lot of momentum when going through your round.

What is an eagle in golf?

An eagle is a score that is one better than a birdie on a par 4 or a par 5 hole. It is much harder to do on a par 4 than on a par 5.

To get an eagle on a par 4, you need to either land the ball on the green from the tee or put it in the cup on your approach shot following a good drive. Whenever you beat the par by two strokes, then you posted an eagle.

The best way to get an eagle is a hole in one on a par 3 for a score of one on that hole.  That’s one of the most exciting shots in golf!

 What is a turkey in golf?

A turkey in golf is similar to a turkey in bowling, which uses the term to describe three consecutive strikes by a bowler.

In golf, you post a turkey when you score three consecutive birdies during the same round.  Best case scenario, you make multiple turkeys in one round.  Ideally a whole round of Turkeys!

 What is an albatross in golf?

An albatross is score that is three under par. You would need to ace a par 4, put the ball in the cup on an approach to a par 5, or make the green on the drive on a par 5 and sink the first putt.  A pretty rare feat.

But not impossible. states that there have been 4 albatross’s in the history of the Masters, 3 in the US Open, 3 in the PGA Championship and a whopping 8 in the British Open.  Now those guys are pretty good.

 What is a condor in golf?

A condor is a somewhat rarely used term that describes a hole score that is four below par. That requires either a par 5 or a par 6 hole, and there are no par 6 holes in tournaments.

So the condor is a rarely used and relatively unknown golf term.  This article on details some of the instances this has actually happened in real life, not a video game.  Crazy rare.

A condor is also referred to as a double eagle.

 What is an ostrich in golf?

An ostrich is even more rarely used than condor, because it represents a score that is five strokes fewer than par. So you either have to ace a par 6, which is nearly impossible, or complete a par 7 in two strokes.

Seems impossible, right?  I’m actually not aware of anyone who has ever accomplished this.  And given the number of par 6 or 7’s that exist, seems like it will never happen…

With all these positive bird related golf terminology better understood, you can try to post some on your next trip to the golf course!

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