What Is an Albatross in Golf?

Golf is a game of shots that are powerful, spinning, subtle, deft, and measured. There is an ever-growing list of professional golfers, and the game’s standard has improved over the past decades.

It’s because better quality equipment and more professional assistance are available to golfers in recent years.

What Is an Albatross in Golf

However, golf remains a game where some frontiers are still too hard to cross. Albatross, more popular as a double eagle in American circuits, is one of those scores that remain largely elusive to most golfers. So what is an albatross in golf?

When you finish a hole in under 3-par, it is called an albatross. Technically, this is possible only when you are trying to finish a 5-par or 6-par hole.

Why is albatross such a difficult feat in golf?

An albatross is almost an impossible feat to achieve in golf. A scoring term means a player can score a particular hole by three strokes under par. It is a challenging accomplishment for any golfer, given that most of the holes in a golf course or driving range are 3-par, 4-par, and 5-par.

Some professional golfers have accomplished an albatross at different golf tour events. However, they constitute a minimal number compared to all the golfers who have played in LPGA Tour and PGA Tour history.

For you to be able to score an albatross, you need to play on a 5-par hole. If you play at a 4-par recess and score an albatross, it would termes a hole-in-one, not an albatross.

On a par-5 hole, you score by sink the ball into the hole in the second shot; it’s called an albatross. It would require an extremely high level of precision and great luck to sink in a hole that lies 200 yards or more from the green.

Who has scored an albatross so far?

In the long and illustrious history of professional golf, there were only a few occasions when it scored an albatross. However, PGA Tour veteran Gene Sarazen is recognized as the first professional golfer to score an albatross at one of the four major events of modern professional golf.

Sarazen made this extraordinary achievement during the 1935 Masters on 5-par 15th hole. The game went on to become a tie which forced a playoff that Sarazen won. 

Joey Sindelar, Jack Nicklaus, and Shaun Micheel are the other professional golfers who have scored an albatross in their golfing careers.

In recent times, Nicholas Thompson achieved an albatross in 2009 at the Fry.com Open. He scored the albatross on par-5 11th hole. He also made a hole-in-one on the 3-par 13th hole.

An albatross and a hole-in-one in the same game is an extremely rare achievement in golf history. In nearly 70 years of LPGA Tour’s history, as many as 30 albatrosses score.

Some most remarkable albatross in the history of golf

Making a par-5 in two shots is rare, and you need to make some very shots and a great deal of luck to achieve such a rare feat. According to an estimate, only 10% of all the golfers can make 5-par in two shots.

Gene Sarazen

Gene Sarazen accomplished the most famous double eagle during the 1935 Masters. We have mentioned this earlier in this article.

It was the final round, and Craig Wood was finishing the game with a 3-stroke lead. Sarazen was in the 15th fairway, and he holed out from 235 yards, and it was for a 2. So he tied the game with Wood and faced him the next day in a 36-hole playoff that Sarazen eventually won.

Jeff Maggert

 American professional golfer Jeff Maggert achieved a double eagle at Augusta during the 1994 Masters. He completed this feast on 5-par at the 13th hole.

He is the only golfer to accomplish double eagles in two major tours. He achieved this feat during the 2001 British Open.

C. Chen. C. Chen remembers for scoring the first double eagle in the history of the U.S. Open. He hit the ball for a 256-yard shot for the 527-yard second hole in the tournament’s first round.

But he is also remembered, perhaps more, for a double-hit chip he made in the final round of the 1985 event at Oakland Hills.

Many golf fans remember Bob Gilder making a double eagle during the third round of Westchester in 1982 at Westchester Country Club.

What are your odds of making an albatross?

The odds of scoring an albatross are 6 million to 1. The National Hole worked out this estimate in One Association that tracks and sets odds for holes-in-one.

As per this golf body, hole-in-one is highly elusive, while an albatross is less likely. It sets the odds for a golfer to score a hole-in-one at 12,750 to 1. 

Why is scoring an albatross so rare?

Scoring an albatross is tricky because it can achieve it only on 5-par holes whose number on a golf course ranges from 2 to 5.

However, scoring a birdie possibility is 1-under-par, or an eagle that’s 2-under-par is high. So, again, it’s because they can store any holes on the golf course. But an albatross that can score on 5-par and 6-par holes is an infrequent phenomenon. 

Is it an albatross or double eagle?

Albatross and double eagle refer to the same thing and have identical meanings. The use of double eagle is more common in the United States.

Albatross is a more frequently used term worldwide than a double eagle. On the same note, an eagle also refers to as an & ace’. When you can finish a hole by 2 strokes under par, it is called an eagle.

When you finish a hole by 3-under par, it is called an albatross. The possibility of scoring an albatross is much lower than scoring an ace. Albatross can achieve on a 5-par hole were scoring a hole-in-one is virtually impossible though some instances.

However, a double eagle is widely used in the United States, while albatross commonly uses elsewhere. The term double eagle came to be used for the first time in 1935 for a short that remains one of the most famous shots in golf history. It was a 5-par hole out from a distance of over 200 yards.

The shot makes for the 15th hole, and it was a double eagle. For the rest of the world and the history of golf, it was the first albatross scored by Gene Sarazen. The American newspapers called the shot & double eagle’, making it more popular than albatross. 

Australian golfer Ogilvy had once famously said that he did not know what a double eagle meant until he came to the United States. 

What is the origin of ‘Albatross’ in golf? 

How and why was the word albatross chosen to describe under 3-under par on a hole? For below-par golf scores, avian themes have already been in use.

Albatross is also a bird, and it falls in line with the established practice of having an avian theme named for below-par scores.

For 1-under par, we have a birdie, and for a 2-under par score, we have an eagle. For 3-under par, the world double eagle use, but this particular scoring also denotes an albatross.

Scoring an albatross is very rare. It must have been all the more so in the early 20th century when the golfing equipment was not advanced, and the shots they made covered a relatively short distance.

So, it might not have felt the need for a term to describe 3-under par for a long time. According to some sources, the first reference of & albatross’ as a term to denote a 3-under par score use first by a British newspaper in 1929. 

During the 1930s, albatross’ became a commonly used term in the golfing world. 

But why was albatross’ used out of so many avian themes available for the purpose?

Albatross is a bird, and some of these birds are large with impressive wingspans. According to U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, an albatross is grand, and it describes the shot make 3-under par possible. 

Indeed, making a 3-under par possible, you need to make some great shots on the course.


By the discussion so far, you must see what makes albatross such a difficult feat to accomplish. Albatross remains an enigma in the game of stamina and power coupled with deft and subtle stroke play.

It’s anyone who scores an albatross transfers directly to the hall of fame of the golfing world.

But some players have achieved this feat. But, unfortunately, they haven’t got the rare distinction of scoring an albatross by the quirk of things.

These professional players have been extraordinary golfers who have many more records and remarkable achievements to their credit.

While golf may look to be an easy game, scoring an under 3-par is something that only a few could achieve, and it can count their number on the fingertips.

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