What is a Birdie in Disc Golf?

Your putter flies through the air dead straight before crashing into the metal chains of the hole and safely dropping into the basket below. You’ve just finished your first hole of disc golf and now need to keep track of the score.

Your playing partner tells you that you’ve got a birdie on your first try! What does that mean?

A birdie in disc golf means that the hole has been completed with one throw fewer than the par score for the hole. This improves a player’s round score by ‘-1’

Why do you want to get a birdie?

When playing disc golf, the objective of the game is to complete the course in the fewest number of strokes (each throw of a disc is a stroke) in a similar fashion to conventional golf where the idea is to take the fewest strokes to complete the course.

Each course will have a ‘par’ score, with the total course comprising of a number of holes, usually 9 or 18, which each have their own ‘par’ score.

A par score can be imagined like a recommended number of strokes to complete a hole. If a hole has a par score of 4 strokes this means that if you take fewer than 4 strokes your score will improve, in this instance a birdie would be 3 strokes, and any more than 4 would see your score get worse in relation to the par score.

At the end of the course your scores for every hole are added up and you get a final score.

As you can see, the more birdie’s you can get, the lower your score will be, and therefore the better!

Here is a table of common stroke play numbers and their associated naming:

Hole in one1 stroke to score. Depending on the hole par number this can also be the same as some of the other scores in this list.
Albatross/Double eagleThree strokes under par on a hole
EagleTwo strokes under par on a hole
BirdieOne stroke under par on a hole
ParScore a player is expected to make on the hole
BogeyOne stroke over par
Double bogeyTwo strokes over par
Triple bogeyThree strokes over par

What is the other Disc Golf score terminology I need to know?

Birdie and par aren’t the only bit of scoring jargon you need to get familiar with if you want to blend in with the regulars. Some of the other common phrases you’ll hear are:

  • Basket – This is equivalent to the hole in ball golf. This is the post with the metal chains on it representing the end of the hole. Once your disc is in the basket the hole is complete and you tally up your strokes for the hole.
  • Drive – A drive is usually referring to the first stroke (or called throw) taken from the tee area at the start of every hole.
  • Inbound/Out of bounds – Each hole will generally have boundaries which players are allowed to use. Should you throw your disc to an ‘out of bounds’ area, often a lake, trees, creek etc then you receive a penalty stroke. A disc is considered out of bounds if it is wholly beyond the out of bounds line. For example if the disc is partially touching the out of bounds line it is still considered in bounds. If you throw a disc out of bounds, you have completed one stroke, you then receive a penalty stroke on top meaning your next throw is your third stroke. Your third stroke is usually taken from 1m in bounds of the point your disc rests out of bounds.
  • Mandatory (or mando) – A mando is an instruction as part of a hole which you must follow. This might take the form of arrows telling you to play around an obstacle a certain direction. If you miss a mando you usually have to throw your next shot from the position your previous shot was taken from.
  • Penalty throw/Penalty stroke – This is the name for the extra stroke which may be added to your score for missing a mando, or landing out of bounds.

There are many more terms in disc golf, many of them slang for a full name (e.g. mando instead of mandatory). Over time as a newer player you will start to pick them up, especially if you play with more experienced players who will rattle them off without even realising you might not follow what they’re saying!

What is Parked in Disc Golf?

If you’ve never heard the term parked around a disc golf course you might have no idea what it means – it’s certainly not one of the obvious ones. Once you pick up that bogeys and birds (birdie/eagle/albatross) are all related to scoring that keeps that fairly simple.

But parking? Isn’t that to do with cars?

Parked is when your disc lands close enough to the basket that it can be considered a ‘gimmie’ (not going to be missed). An additional stroke is then added to your score and you complete the hole.

I’ve personally not seen anything in the rules about what the distance for parked is, it acts more of a gentleman’s agreement on the course with whoever you’re playing with. I usually play that if I’m within a few feet of the basket and can practically drop the disc in the basket it’s a guaranteed putt and call it parked and move on but I know others use different distances, sometimes to their advantage. I wouldn’t let anyone have a parked if they’re 10+ feet away as those are easily missable with a bit of pressure, especially if it’s for a birdie or to keep par.

What are penalty strokes?

Penalty strokes are given when the player does not or cannot follow a course bounds or rules.

A penalty stroke is an additional stroke added to your score, usually due to an infringement on the hole boundary or the mandatory rules of a hole.

Typically a penalty stroke will ruin your hole, if you’re playing a par three and get a penalty stroke from your drive, your next throw will be your third so you had better hope your throwing is on point that day!

Hopefully this article has explained to you what a birdie is along with some of the other common scoring phrases found around a disc golf course. Happy throwing!