Tiger Woods won the 2002 Masters Tournament with an overall score of 276. His score sheet for the first nine holes read like this: par, par, birdie, birdie, birdie, bogey, par, par, par. At first glance, this may look like the words for a bad doo-wop song. A skilled golfer would know that Tiger had a pretty good first nine holes. But how would you know?
In golf, unlike many other sports, the object is to have the lowest score. You do this by getting your ball into the hole using the fewest number of strokes. Each hole on a golf course is assigned a number called par. Par is the number of strokes that it would take most golfers to get the ball into the hole. Usually, holes are given a par number of 3, 4, or 5.
On a Par 4 hole, if you take 4 strokes to get the ball in the hole, you will have scored par for that hole. But say you are golfing well on the next Par 4 hole and you take only three strokes to hit the ball into the hole. For this hole, you will get a "birdie." A birdie is one stroke under par. This term was first used in 1989. Golfer George Crump hit a shot that actually hit a flying bird. The next ball he hit almost went into the hole on a Par 4. His friends told him that this shot was "a bird." The next shot, which was the third shot and one under par, went into the hole. The term "birdie" soon caught on. But the bird analogy doesn't stop here: If you do really well on a particular hole, shooting two strokes under par, you'll have shot an "eagle."
On the next hole, perhaps the sun is in your eyes and you lose your concentration. It takes you five strokes, or one more than par on a Par 4 hole, to sink the ball. You will have a bogey for that hole. If you hit two more than par, you will have a double bogey, and so on. The term "bogey" came from a British song about the "Bogey Man."
Whether you hit par, birdies, or bogies, playing the game of golf takes lot of practice. But to keep score, you only need to add and subtract.