On April 10, 1916, 35 golfers created The Professional Golfers’ Association of America in New York City. Since that time, countless golf balls have taken to the skies in search of the elusive hole-in-one.
If you’ve ever watched golf on television, you may have been confused by some of the interesting words you probably heard. From bogeys to birdies to eagles to holes-in-one, golf certainly has a unique vocabulary all its own.
Most of these terms relate to another special term used in golf: par. Golfers use the word “par” to describe how many strokes (golf shots) it should take to get the golf ball from the tee (where you start) into the hole (where you end).
For example, if par for a particular hole is 4, it should take most golfers four strokes to get the golf ball into the hole.
The farther away the hole is from the tee — and the more obstacles there are, such as sand traps, hills, trees or water hazards — the higher the par will be. Holes will usually have a par of three, four or five strokes.
Most 18-hole golf courses have par values of 72, based on four par-3 holes, 10 par-4 holes and four par-5 holes. It is quite rare to find par-6 or par-7 holes.
A golfer’s goal, of course, is to get the golf ball into the hole with as few strokes as possible. The absolute minimum number would be one stroke — the elusive and very rare hole-in-one.
And the maximum? Well, as many amateur golfers will tell you, there really is no limit to the number of strokes it can take some days!
Golfers compare the number of strokes it takes to get their golf ball in the hole with the par score. On a par-5 hole, five strokes would be par.
Hitting par for a hole is sometimes called “even.” Par means “equal” in Latin.
Golfers try to avoid going over par, but it happens frequently, even for professionals. A score of 1 over par (+1) on a hole is called a “bogey.” More than one stroke over par is called a “double bogey” (+2), “triple bogey” (+3) and so on.
Golfers strive to stay under par on every hole. Since it’s difficult to do so, special names are used to refer to the achievement.
Hitting 1 under par (-1) on a hole is known as a “birdie.” Hitting 2 under par (-2) on a hole is even more difficult and is called an “eagle.”
An even rarer achievement is 3 under par (-3), which is known as an “albatross.” Some golfers, especially in the United States, also call this shot a “double eagle.” It is such a rare achievement that professional golf tours record, on average, less than three of these shots each year.
The lowest individual hole score ever recorded is 4 under par (-4), also called a “condor.” There have been only four condors ever recorded and none during a professional tournament.
Terms exist for even rarer events — “ostrich” for 5 under par (-5) and “phoenix” for 6 under par (-6) — but no one has ever made these shots. Some consider them impossible — they require a hole-in-one on a par-6 or par-7 hole — because these holes themselves are very rare.
The seventh hole on the Satsuki golf course in Japan happens to be one of the few par-7 holes in the world, and it also happens to be the longest hole in the world at 964 yards.