The origin of golf terms

Golf is a sport that has gained many followers in recent years. Traditionally it has been considered an elitist sport, although the great diversity and offer of golf courses in Majorca and in the rest of the national territory, has meant that more and more people have access, and from earlier ages.

If golf is characterized by one thing, it is by the immense amount of terms that are used. Some of the most common are birdie, eagle, albatross, bogey. Surely you are already thinking that they are names of birds, but why are they used for this sport?


Used to score one under par. It began to be used in 1899 in New Jersey. It turns out that on one game day, three golfers were playing when one of them, on his second stroke, hit a bird in flight with the ball and it landed very, very close to the hole. The teammates said it was a stroke of luck for a ‘birdie’. It wasn’t long before it began to be used all over the United States and later spread to other countries.

This was the beginning of using bird names to name certain golf shots.

Eagle, albatros and bogey

Based on the use of the birdie for a low par, it was considered convenient to use a larger bird the better the shot. That is, an Eagle for -2, an albatross for -3.

Interestingly, when playing criteria were established on British courses, the bogey represented the result that the best players from each club were expected to achieve at each hole. However, the material with which it was played, the level of the game and the course and their maintenance were improving and with this, the valuation measures that were becoming outdated had to be adapted.

As a consequence, at the beginning of the 20th century, almost all British courses had a handful of holes in which the bogey was one stroke above the new standard level that served to identify an error-free result.

By 1920, despite many British measures being adopted in golf, the bogey was not taken into account, but the par was the protagonist that marked the result that should be obtained in a golf hole.

And what about the origin of golf?

We would need much more to talk about it, but the truth is that this sport has been practiced for centuries. Although, as expected, to become the hobby that it has become today, it has gone through many processes in which it has been adapting or taking different forms.

It is believed that it began in Roman times, although others claim that it is an evolution of the French ‘jeu de mail’ or the Dutch ‘kolven’. It could be said that the origin of this sport is not clearly defined and that it was influenced by many civilizations. But most experts agree that the game of golf as it is known today originated in Scotland in the early 15th century. In fact, the course that is considered the forerunner of modern golf courses is the Scots at Saint Andrews.

It is interesting to know its history and all the related terms like the ones we have seen today. If you are thinking about getting started in this sport, surely this information will be very useful to you.

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