Skip to main content

What Are They Talking About

May 2024
1min read

In common with every sport, golf has its own language. Over the centuries words and definitions have drifted in and out of the game, sometimes changing their meanI ings. What was once a bogey is now a par. Almost all golfers claim they know the origins of golf terms and will talk glibly about how Mr. Mulligan and Colonel Bogey gave their names to the game. The fact is, no one knows for certain. Sometimes even the simplest definition can be cluttered with modifiers. For example, what is par on a given hole? Par is the score that an expert golfer is expected to make on a day in which weather is not a factor, if one assumes he takes two putts. One shot over par is a bogey, and two over par is a double bogey. Any more is recorded under the dreaded category of “other.” One under par is a birdie, and two under par is an eagle. Please don’t ask why. No one knows. A score of three under par is known as either a double eagle or an albatross. A hole in one, the premier achievement in golf, is known as an ace. The author of this article scored an ace on the fifteenth hole at Waccabuc Country Club, in Salem, New York, on August 14, 1990. Recording the details of this accomplishment here would swell this article to an inconvenient size, but they may be learned by contacting the author directly.

—P.A.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate