A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 16, 2014
Birdie (golf score)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Par (score)
Birdie
Birdie means scoring one under par (−1). This expression was coined in 1899, at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield, New Jersey. It seems that one day in 1899, three golfers – George Crump (who later built Pine Valley, about 45 miles away), William Poultney Smith (founding member of Pine Valley), and his brother Ab Smith – were playing together when Crump hit his second shot only inches from the cup on a par-four hole after his first shot had struck a bird in flight. Simultaneously, the Smith brothers exclaimed that Crump’s shot was “a bird.” Crump’s short putt left him one-under-par for the hole, and from that day the three of them referred to such a score as a “birdie.” In short order, the entire membership of the club began using the term. As the Atlantic City Country Club, being a resort, had many out-of-town visitors, the expression spread and caught the fancy of all American golfers. The perfect round (score of 54 on a par-72 course) is most commonly described as scoring a birdie on all 18 holes, although no player has ever recorded a perfect round in a professional tournament.

Wikipedia: Glossary of golf
Birdie
A hole played in one stroke under par.

LA84 Digital Library
November 1908, The American Golfer, “Four-Ball Matches” by Leighton Calkins, pg. 19, col. 1:
With all four players evenly matched, it is generally necessary for one of them to “jump out of the bunch” with a “birdie” in order to capture a hole.

LA84 Digital Library
December 1908, The American Golfer, pg. 73:
SOME DIETARY SUGGESTIONS
To get “birdies,” avoid larks and do not use a ball that ducks.

LA84 Digital Sports Library
January 1909, The American Golfer. “Around Philadelphia” by “Hazard,” pg. 127, col. 2:
A much mooted question is “who was the father of Birdies?“ That distinction certainly belongs to one of the brothers Smith—either A. H. or W. P. Some four or five years ago a party of Philadelphia golfers at Atlantic City decided that in order to improve their play, a premium of one ball from each player should be given the man who succeeded in making any hole in one less than par; in other words, accurate play up to the “tee,” rather than onto the green in general was encouraged and rewarded. The innovation met with immediate favor, and from its nest in Philadelphia the Birdie has taken wing to all parts of the country. Sometime after the hatching of the Birdie another feathered feature was given to golf—the Eagle, which soars even higher than the Birdie and is doubly rewarded. To secure an Eagle one must hole out in two less than par, thereby receiving from each opponent three balls (two for the Eagle and one for the Birdie).

LA84 Digital Sports Library
February 1909, The American Golfer. “Around Philadelphia” by “Hazard,” pg. 198, col. 2:
At this critical point the doctor won the championship with an “Eagle"—a wonderful 3—although a “Bird” would have sufficed.

LA84 Digital Sports Library
November 1912, The American Golfer. pg. 25, col. 2:
PAR AND MA GOLF.
Some bright mind has put forward “ma” as a substitute for a “birdie,” a term which originated in Philadelphia, and is one under “par.”

LA84 Digital Sports Library
19 January 1921, The American Golfer, “Replying to Queries,” pg. 22, col. 1:
DEAR EDITOR:
I am a new hand at the game of golf and some of the terms have me guessing a bit, especially since the friends with whom I play are apparently uncertain in their use. Will you be good enough to enlighten me on the meanings of the following: “Birdie,” “Eagle,” “Dormie” and “Nassau”?
BEGINNER.

When a hole is made in one stroke under par, the score is said to be a “birdie”; two under par is an “eagle.”

4 May 1938, State-Times (Baton Rouge, LA), pg. 9, cols. 5-8:
IT’S A ‘BIRDIE’—HOW IT STARTED
Atlantic City (AP)—Maybe it started this way:

In 1899 a man named Smith was playing the Atlantic City County clubs second hole, a par four. He put his second shot within six inches of the cup. He turned to his partner and said: ‘That was a bird of a shot and I win only a paltry sum from you. Hereafter I suggest that when one of us plays a hole in one under par he receive double compensation.”

From then on “birdie” was sued to describe this feat, and other golfers picked it up.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 • Permalink