What is a Birdie in Disc Golf?

It always feels awesome whenever you’re out playing disc golf and everything seems to be going right for you. It’s nice out, your score is on point, and you just cant help but getting birdies on every single hole. Your score just keeps getting lower and lower and you’re playing like Paul McBeth in his finest hour. Today, we’re going to be talking about the famous “birdie,” looking at what it is, how it helps you, and how you can get better on the course (for more birdies).

So what is a Birdie in disc golf?

A “Birdie” is one of the most basic scoring terms used by disc golfers, and it means a score of 1-under par on any individual disc golf hole. Every hole on the course is given a par rating, or an expected number of strokes, and a player must complete the hole in 1 less stroke than par (or 1 under par).

How birdies can help you on the course

If you can remember what a par is, it is an expected number of strokes on a hole (let’s say a par 4 or four strokes to complete the hole). If you wanted to birdie that hole, you would need to complete the hole in three strokes. Completing a hole with a birdie is just finishing the hole with 1 less throw than par. It’s pretty simple. So here’s a quick breakdown of possible scores you can get and what score you need to get a birdie on that hole:

• Score a 2 on a par-3 hole

• Score a 3 on a par-4 hole

• Score a 4 on a par-5 hole

• Score a 5 on a par-6 hole (you won’t find many of these)

You see, most of us just want to make par. If you can par every hole, you will end up with a 0 score. If you got bogeys on every hole, you would end up at +18 or 18 over par. And if you birdied every hole, you would be -18 or 18 under par. Check out Paul McBeth’s perfect round below for a great example of this:

To win, disc golfers must have the lowest score on the course. So consistently being able to get birdies or better on every hole will help you achieve that low score (hopefully in the negatives). Birdies can and will help you win your rounds if you can get them. But they’re hard to get unless you really work and do well for them.

The birdie’s history

The birdie has a history rooted in ball golf’s origins. As many already know, most of the terms from disc golf come directly from the game of ball golf. Even the way we play the game, trying to score in par or better on the course, is from ball golf. But what most people don’t know about is the origin of the word birdie. And honestly, it’s pretty cool how it came about.

The word “birdie” originated in America and is one of the the earliest innovations to the game of ball golf. Early one New Jersey day in 1903, a man named Abner Smith was playing with some friends, hit a great shot, and was quoted saying, “That was a bird of a shot…I suggest that when one of us plays a hole in one under par he receives double compensation.” The friends all agreed, and thus the birdie was born. It was then spread all across the United States, all from one country club in Atlantic City.

Although it isn’t known when the term was converted over into disc golf play, it’s safe to assume that it started in 1926 when some boys from Canada started playing Tin Lid Golf. To this day, though, the birdie remains a staple part of the game and usually dictates who wins and who doesn’t.

5 tips to improve on the course and birdie every hole

1. Use the right discs – this tip is simple. Make sure you use discs that apply to the skill level you currently possess. There are discs made for beginners, amateurs, intermediate players, advanced players, and pro players. Make sure you use those discs that are closest to your skill level.

2. Understand flight ratings – disc golf flight ratings are those four little numbers that mark the front of most discs. They tell you the speed, glide, high-speed turn, and low-speed fade of every disc. This helps you compare discs and understand what works for you and what doesn’t. You can check out our post, “What Do the Numbers on a Disc Golf Disc Mean?” for more information on flight ratings.

3. 10X your putting – one part of the game that I really struggle with is the short game. My putting is definitely not up to where I want it to be. But I learned early that if you’re struggling to get better, a great way to take stroke off of your game is to get way better at putting. Your short game can really crush your score, so today I want you to think about 10Xing your putting game.

The 10X rule says that you should set goals that are 10 times greater than how good you believe you can be and take actions that are 10 times greater than what you believe you need to achieve those goals. I know that sounds kind of weird but seriously, if you want to get better at putting why not get ten times better at putting? Here’s how you do that:

• Read our post, “The 12 Best Disc Golf Putting Tips for Beginners.” Yeah, it says for beginners but it has excellent tips to get you started.

• Buy a disc golf basket. Check out our post on “11 Reasons Why You Need a Disc Golf Basket.”

• Have a regular practice routine and practice every day.

• Make up putting games and drills. This is the best way to competitively get better at putting.

If you do all of those things, your putting will improve dramatically and you will easily improve your score and start getting more birdies.

4. Go out and have fun – sometimes you need to just go have some fun out on the course. I know a lot of us, like myself, are too hard on ourselves most of the time. Whenever I play, and don’t play very well, I get really frustrated and start playing worse. If this is you, try to take a breath before you keep going. Then just take a few moments and think about why you play this game. Remember that you’re here to play this game for fun.

If for some reason you just can’t play better or get your score up, try just going out and throwing and forget the score. If you’re in a tournament you can’t do this, but if it’s casual play, you can easily just play. No counting, no score, and no drama. Just you and the game of disc golf.

5. Read our post, “101 Disc Golf Tips to Take Your Game to the Next Level” – this blog post is absolutely epic and is essentially the basis for our book, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” In this post, we highlight 101 of the best disc golf tips that can take you from beginner to intermediate to advanced player in a very short time frame. This post is fine tuned for you, so be sure to head over to it and take it all in. If you do that, you will surely be able to improve your ability to get more birdies during your round.

Extra tip: Find a real life mentor – mentors are extremely important in all walks of life. But they are especially important in the game of disc golf. A good real life mentor can really help you crush your rounds on the course because they can show you exactly what to do on the course. Good players usually have little tips or tricks that you might not have thought about while playing on your own. While learning everything online is good, real life mentors are a must if you really want to get better at disc golf.

A final thought

When you’re relatively new to the game, it seems like it’s impossible to get birdies on a regular basis. It’s even hard to do when you’re a better disc golf player. But with consistent practice, strategy, and knowledge of each course, you will undoubtedly start playing better and capturing more birdies in your rounds. So lets get to it!

Great job!

If you’ve gotten this far, you must really want to learn more about disc golf and everything about it. If you’re interested in more frequently asked questions, you can check out the resources below or hit up our FAQ page here.

How Much Does it (Actually) Cost to Play Disc Golf?

What if My Disc Golf Disc Lands in the Water?

What if My Disc Golf Disc Goes Out of Bounds?

How Many Discs Do You Need to Play Disc Golf?

What if My Disc Golf Disc Lands on Top of the Basket?

Related Content

You can also check out our awesome related content.

9 Weird Tricks to Improve Your Disc Golf Game (Forever)

Mastering Disc Golf in the Wind: A Beginner’s Guide

The 12 Best Disc Golf Putting Tips for Beginners

Don’t forget

You can also grab a copy of our book, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual,” here on the site. It’s packed full of extremely practical tips and tricks to help you immediately start improving on the course!


I am an avid disc golfer and lover of the sport. My mission with DiscgolfNOW.com is to reach as many people as possible to help them love disc golf, too!

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