The Mythical Ostrich in Golf: Scoring Five Under Par Explained

Colin McCarthy

ostrich in golf

In the world of golf, scoring under par is a significant achievement, with birdies and eagles being celebrated milestones. But have you ever heard of an “ostrich”?

It’s a term for an almost mythical feat: scoring five under par on a single hole. Imagine the precision and luck required to accomplish such a rare score.

An ostrich is theoretically possible only on holes with a par greater than five, making it an elusive goal even for the most skilled golfers.

To achieve it, one would need to ace a par-6 hole or hole out in two on a par-7. Given the rarity of such holes and the difficulty of the task, it’s no wonder that no golfer has ever recorded an ostrich.

This extraordinary accomplishment remains a fascinating topic among golf enthusiasts, symbolizing the ultimate challenge in the sport.

Understanding Golf Scoring Terms

Golf scoring terminologies might seem a bit confusing at first, but they’re quite simple once you get the hang of them.

Here’s a breakdown:

Birdie, Eagle, and Albatross

Golf scoring terms like birdie, eagle, and albatross describe performances that are better than par for a hole. A birdie means scoring one stroke under par.

For instance, a golfer needs to sink the ball in three strokes on a par-4 hole to achieve a birdie. An eagle signifies two strokes under par. So, on a par-5 hole, completing it in three strokes is an eagle.

An albatross, often called a double eagle in the US, represents a score of three strokes under par. On a par-5 hole, this would mean finishing in just two strokes.

The Mythical Ostrich in Golf

The concept of an ostrich in golf refers to scoring five under par on a single hole. Achieving an ostrich requires extraordinary precision and weather conditions.

This mythical score is theoretically possible only on holes with a par greater than five, like certain rare par-6 holes.

Despite its allure, no golfer on record has ever accomplished an ostrich, making it one of the most elusive feats in the sport.

The rarity and near-impossibility of scoring an ostrich captivate golfing enthusiasts and pros alike, adding to the game’s intrigue. It remains a topic of fascination and a benchmark of ultimate skill.

The origin of bird-related golf terms like “birdie” and “eagle” is a fun part of golf lore!

Here’s a brief rundown:

Why Birds?

Golf scores often use bird names like birdie and eagle to signify scoring achievements. A “birdie,” one stroke under par, likely originated from the late 19th century American slang term “bird,” meaning something excellent.

The progression to using “eagle” for two strokes under par seems natural, indicating a better score and maintaining the avian theme. This evolution of terms provides an interesting, colorful language to describe golf scoring achievements.

Historical Context and Evolution

The use of bird names in golf scores has intriguing historical roots. The term “birdie” was first coined in the United States in 1899 at the Atlantic City Country Club.

According to historical accounts, a player hit an exceptional shot and remarked it was a “bird of a shot.” This phrase evolved into the term “birdie,” now universally recognized in golf.

“Eagle” followed, indicating a score significantly better than a birdie, and represented exceptional play. This pattern continued with “albatross” or “double eagle” for three strokes under par, emphasizing even rarer feats in the game.

Although terms like “ostrich” and “phoenix” for scoring five and six strokes under par are more mythological, they add an element of aspiration and fascination to golf.

These terms collectively enrich the golfing lexicon, offering players and fans a unique way to celebrate and discuss the sport’s achievements.

Golf is a sport rich with tradition and folklore, and over time, several myths and legends have emerged.

Here are some popular myths in golf:

Fact or Fiction in Golf Terminology

Golf enthusiasts often encounter various terms whose legitimacy can be puzzling. Among these, terms for remarkable scores capture the imagination.

In golf, a “birdie” signifies one stroke under par, while an “eagle” means two strokes under par. The term “albatross” denotes three strokes under par. All these terms, although initially peculiar, have become standardized and widely accepted.

Another term frequently debated is “phoenix,” indicative of six strokes under par. Similar to the ostrich, it’s not adopted in conventional golf terminology. Though entertaining, terms like phoenix enrich the lore of golf rather than its official records.

The persistence of these myths often emerges from a desire for colorful language in sports. While they add charm and excitement to conversations, they rarely outline practical or attainable milestones in standard gameplay.

How Scoring Influences Gameplay

Scoring in golf profoundly influences gameplay in various ways, shaping strategy, decision-making, and overall approach to the game.

Here’s how scoring impacts gameplay:

Strategy and Risk Management

In golf, scoring mechanisms deeply impact strategy and risk management. When players aim for a birdie, eagle, or the legendary ostrich, they consider the balance between risk and reward.

For example, on a par 5 hole, attempting an eagle by reaching the green in two strokes often involves substantial risk, like navigating water hazards or bunkers.

The allure of achieving a lower score pushes golfers to make aggressive plays, balancing their confidence with the potential hazards.

Golfers must tailor strategies to their skills and the course layout. Aggressive strategies might involve the use of drivers and long irons, while conservative strategies focus on precision with mid-irons and wedges.

The choice of strategy affects gameplay dynamics and scoring potential, influencing decide-making processes and outcomes on each hole.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the terms birdie, eagle, and albatross mean in golf?

Birdie, eagle, and albatross are terms used in golf to describe scoring under par on a hole. A birdie is one stroke under par, an eagle is two strokes under par, and an albatross (also called a double eagle) is three strokes under par.

Where did the term ‘birdie’ originate in golf?

The term ‘birdie’ originated in the United States during the late 19th century, when ‘bird’ was slang for something excellent or wonderful. It symbolized making a score that is one stroke under par as an excellent achievement.

What is an ostrich in golf?

An ostrich is an unofficial term in golf that represents scoring five strokes under par on a single hole. It is a mythical score that has never been recorded and remains a legendary feat in the game’s lore.

What is a phoenix in golf?

A phoenix is a rarely mentioned and unofficial term used to signify scoring six strokes under par on a single hole. It is part of the more mythical and fanciful aspects of golf terminology.


The world of golf scoring is rich with history and colorful terminology. While terms like “ostrich” and “phoenix” add a layer of mystique, they also highlight the game’s evolving nature.

Understanding these terms and their implications can enhance both strategy and enjoyment on the course. Whether you’re chasing a birdie or dreaming of an ostrich, the pursuit of lower scores continues to challenge and inspire golfers everywhere.

So, next time you’re on the green, remember that the quest for rare scores, like an ostrich, symbolizes much more than just numbers. It’s a testament to skill, perseverance, and the endless allure of the game.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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