Golf Scoring Terms: Meanings of Par, Bogey, Birdie, Eagle

Mark Crossfield
11 Min Read

Are you baffled by the mysterious world of golf scoring terms?

If you’re a golf enthusiast, a beginner, or simply curious about the game, understanding terms like “birdie,” “bogey,” or “eagle” can seem complex and overwhelming. You may wonder what exactly is 7 under par called or what the difference between birdie and eagle in golf is.

Don’t worry! Golf scoring terms are quite straightforward. They are essential expressions used to define a player’s performance in relation to par on a golf hole.

Ready to unravel the enigma of golf scoring? In this comprehensive guide, I’ll delve into the meanings and significance of various golf scoring terms, such as par, birdie, eagle, and many more. With my expertise in the field and your passion for the game, we’ll decode the golf scoring system together, helping you understand the nuances and elevating your enjoyment of this wonderful sport. Whether seeking answers to common questions like “What are golf scores called?” or “What is 2 strokes in golf called?” or simply aiming to enhance your knowledge about the golf points system, this article is your one-stop resource.

Key Facts:

  • Brief overview of golf scoring terms
  • The importance of knowing these terms for golf enthusiasts
  • Introduction to common and advanced golf scoring terms
  • Detailed explanation of par, birdie, eagle, and many more terms
  • Insight into how the scoring system impacts the game strategy
(Source: Expert Team Research)

Golf Scoring Terms

Golf scoring terms describe the number of strokes a golfer takes to complete a hole. Par is the number of strokes that an expert golfer is expected to take on a hole. A birdie is one stroke under par, an eagle is two strokes under par, a double bogey is two strokes over par, and a triple bogey is three strokes over par.

Understanding Par

Understanding “par” in golf is like grasping the rules of the road when learning to drive. Let’s dive into it.

  • Definition: Par refers to the number of strokes expected to complete a hole.
  • Significance: It’s the baseline for evaluating your performance in the game.
  • Examples: A par-3 hole means that 3 strokes are expected for a player to complete the hole.

Par in Different Holes

  • Par-3 Holes: Usually shorter, requiring precision.
  • Par-4 Holes: Moderate length and the most common.
  • Par-5 Holes: Longer, allowing skilled players to score under par.

The Under Par Terms

These terms describe scoring better than par.


  • Definition: One stroke under par.
  • Significance: Reflects good performance and skill.
  • Example: If par is 4, scoring a 3 is termed as a “birdie.”


  • Definition: Two strokes under par.
  • Significance: A rare achievement reflecting excellent play.
  • Example: On a par-5 hole, scoring 3 is an “eagle.”


  • Definition: Three strokes under par.
  • Significance: Extremely rare; a sign of extraordinary skill.
  • Example: On a par-5 hole, scoring 2 is an “albatross.”

The Over Par Terms

These terms describe scoring worse than par.


  • Definition: One stroke over par.
  • Significance: Reflects a slight mishap or mistake.
  • Example: If par is 4, scoring a 5 is termed as a “bogey.”

Double Bogey

  • Definition: Two strokes over par.
  • Significance: Indicates significant mistakes.
  • Example: Scoring a 6 on a par-4 hole is a “double bogey.”

Triple Bogey

  • Definition: Three strokes over par.
  • Significance: A sign of major struggles or errors in a hole.
  • Example: Scoring a 7 on a par-4 hole is termed as a “triple bogey.”

Other Golf Scoring Terms

Net Score

  • Definition: Your score after handicap adjustments.
  • Example: If your handicap is 5 and you shoot 80, your net score is 75.
  • Importance: Helps level the playing field among golfers of different abilities.

Gross Score

  • Definition: Your raw score without any adjustments.
  • Example: If you shot 80 in a round, that’s your gross score.
  • Importance: Represents your true performance in a round.


  • Definition: A number reflecting a player’s ability.
  • Example: A handicap of 10 means the player is expected to shoot 10 over par.
  • Importance: Allows players of varying skill levels to compete fairly.

Strokes Gained

  • Definition: A metric to evaluate performance against a standard.
  • Example: If the average number of putts for a hole is 2, and you make it in 1, you’ve gained a stroke.
  • Importance: Allows detailed analysis of a player’s performance.

What Is Golf Scoring System?

Golf Scoring Terms

There are two main scoring systems in golf: stroke play and Stableford.

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Stroke play is the most common scoring system in golf. In stroke play, the golfer with the lowest strokes over 18 holes wins the round. The par for each hole is determined by the course designer and based on the hole’s difficulty. A golfer who scores one stroke under par on a hole is said to have made a birdie, while a golfer who scores two strokes under par has made an eagle. A golfer who scores one stroke over par has made a bogey, while a golfer who scores two strokes over par has made a double bogey.

Stableford is a points-based scoring system. In Stableford, points are awarded for each hole, depending on how well the golfer scores. The points are awarded as follows:

  • Double bogey or worse: 0 points
  • Bogey: 1 point
  • Par: 2 points
  • Birdie: 3 points
  • Eagle: 4 points
  • Albatross: 5 points

The golfer with the highest total number of points at the end of the round wins. Stableford is a popular scoring system for recreational golfers because it allows golfers of all skill levels to compete against each other.

Here are some other scoring systems that are less common in golf:

  • Match play: In match play, two golfers compete against each other head-to-head. The golfer who wins the most holes wins the match.
  • Medal play: Medal play is a stroke play format where the golfer with the lowest score over 9 or 18 holes wins the round.
  • Texas scramble: Four golfers play each hole as a team in a Texas scramble. The golfers take turns hitting the ball, choosing the best shot for each stroke. The team’s score for the hole is the total number of strokes taken for the best shot.

How Scoring in Golf Relates to Game Strategy

Analyzing the importance of scoring in gameplay is crucial. Knowing what a “birdie” or “eagle” means can shape your strategy. Scoring terms define how you are playing and provide insights into when to be aggressive or conservative. The right approach can make the difference between a win and a loss.

Scoring System in Different Golf Formats

Different formats like Stroke Play, Match Play, and Scramble have unique scoring systems.

  • Stroke Play: Total strokes are counted across 18 holes.
  • Match Play: Players compete hole-by-hole.
  • Scramble: Team format where players select the best shot from their group and all play from that spot.

Understanding these different systems will help you adapt to various types of golf competitions.

FAQs About Golf Scoring Terms

What are golf scores called?

Golf scores are typically referred to by terms such as “par,” “birdie,” “eagle,” etc., based on the number of strokes relative to par.

What is 2 strokes in golf called?

2 strokes under par is called an “eagle.”

What is a hole in 2 called?

A hole in 2 on a par-4 is an “eagle.” On a par-3, it’s a “hole-in-one.”

What is 5 over par called?

5 over par is often referred to as a “quintuple bogey.”

What Is 4 Under Par Called?

4 under par is called a condor.

What Is 3 Under Par Called?

3 under par is called an albatross.


Golf scoring terms, such as par, birdie, eagle, and others, form the language of the game. Understanding these terms enhances your enjoyment and provides insights that can shape your strategy on the course.

  • Know your Par: Understand the expected score for each hole.
  • Embrace the Birdie: Recognize when you’ve performed exceptionally.
  • Beware of the Bogey: Learn from your mistakes and strive for better.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, knowing these terms will enrich your experience and allow you to engage more fully with this fantastic sport. Embrace the language of golf and let it guide you to new heights in your game!

Happy Golfing!

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Mark Crossfield is a UK-based golf coach, author, and YouTuber. He simplifies complex concepts, emphasizes understanding fundamentals, and has authored several golf books. Mark has helped golfers worldwide improve their game through his coaching, online content, and contributions to magazines and TV programs.
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