Bogey, Birdie, Eagle, Albatross, Fore!
March 10, 2023
If you enjoy the game of golf, you’re likely familiar with the parlance of the sport. But have you ever considered how these phrases entered the golfing lexicon? The stories of origin for many of these terms are both interesting and amusing – read on for trivia you can employ during your next trip around the greens.
Bogey: Yes, the Bogey Man is involved. This term comes from Scotland, though stories vary. Some say that Major Charles Wellman remarked that a player was “a regular Bogey man,” while others credit Scottish slang for goblins or devils. Regardless, the Scots can lay claim to the idea. A Bogey means one over par.
Birdie: In the 19th century, the term “bird” was the equivalent of “cool” or “excellent” – golf scholars believe this is where the term came from. An Atlantic City, New Jersey, course claims that the term originated there in 1903. The meaning being a score of one under par.
Eagle: American in origin, this play on birdie essentially upped the stakes. If a good score of one-under was a bird, a great score of two-under was a more prestigious bird. The excellent Scottish Golf History website posits that the Americans simply inserted their national bird here.
Albatross: This term means three under par, but the “double eagle” synonym is simply a continuation of the aviary theme of good scores. The albatross is rare, as is a three under par.
Fore!: 200 years ago, golf balls were quite pricey, so an assistant called a “forecaddie” was used to work in front of a golfer and retrieve errant shots. Eventually the word’s etymology diverged – the assistant simply became a caddie and the warning call became “fore!”
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Golf Trivia Credit: Scottish Golf History