What is an Albatross in Golf? Discover the Rare Bird of Golf




what is an albatross in golf

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Golf is a game that is steeped in tradition and is known for its unique terminologies. One such term that stands out is the albatross. If you are new to the game or a casual player, you might wonder what exactly is an albatross in golf and why is it considered so rare

Well, an albatross in golf refers to scoring three strokes under par on a single hole. It is also commonly known as a “double eagle.” An albatross is an extremely rare and coveted achievement in golf and is considered one of the most difficult shots to make on a golf course.

It’s important to note that an albatross is different from a birdie or an eagle. A birdie is when a player scores one stroke under par on a hole, while an eagle is two strokes under par.

Now that we have defined what an albatross in golf is let’s dive deeper into this rare bird of golf and explore why it is so unique.

Key Takeaways:

  • An albatross in golf refers to scoring three strokes under par on a single hole.
  • It is also known as a “double eagle.”
  • An albatross is a rare and coveted achievement in golf and is considered one of the most difficult shots to make on a golf course.
  • It is different from a birdie or an eagle, which are one and two strokes under par, respectively.

The Albatross Golf Score

Golf is a game of scoring, where players aim to complete each hole in as few strokes as possible. In the traditional scoring system, each hole is assigned a “par” score that represents the number of strokes an average golfer should take to complete the hole.

An albatross, also known as a “double eagle,” is a rare golf score achieved when a player completes a hole in three strokes less than the assigned par. For example, if a hole has a par score of 5, an albatross would be achieved by completing the hole in only 2 strokes.

ScoreStrokes Less Than ParCommon Name
14Hole-in-One (Ace)
23Eagle (Double Birdie)
32Albatross (Double Eagle)
7+2Double Bogey

Despite its rarity, an albatross is considered a highly prestigious golf achievement and can happen on any hole, not just par 5s or long par 4s. In fact, some notable albatrosses have been scored on short par 4 holes, demonstrating the unpredictability and excitement of the sport.

How to Score an Albatross in Golf

Scoring an albatross, also known as a “double eagle,” is a rare and exhilarating feat in golf that requires skill, strategy, and a bit of luck.

The first step to scoring an albatross is to understand the ideal hole layout and position of the ball. Typically, the best approach is to aim for the green in two shots on a par-5 hole. This means hitting a long drive off the tee, followed by a powerful and accurate second shot that lands on or near the green, setting up a putt for eagle or better.

One of the keys to scoring an albatross is having a solid short game. This means having the ability to chip and putt accurately, as well as having good touch around the green. Once on the green, the player must make an eagle putt, which can be a long and difficult shot depending on the distance and slope of the green.

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Another strategy to increase the chances of scoring an albatross is to take calculated risks. This may mean going for a challenging shot that offers a higher reward if successful, such as hitting over water or a fairway bunker. However, this approach also comes with the risk of a poor shot that could result in a higher score.

Ultimately, scoring an albatross requires a combination of skill, strategy, and a bit of luck. It is an achievement that is rare and highly coveted among golfers, and one that takes a great deal of dedication and practice to accomplish.

The Rarity of the Albatross

An albatross is considered one of the rarest shots in golf, with only a select few achieving this feat throughout the sport’s history. According to the PGA Tour, the odds of scoring an albatross for a professional golfer are roughly 6 million to one, making it a truly exceptional achievement.

Some of the most notable albatrosses in professional golf history include Jeff Maggert’s 1994 albatross at the TPC River Highlands, which helped him secure his first PGA Tour victory, and Louis Oosthuizen’s 2012 albatross at the Masters, which propelled him to a clear lead and eventual second-place finish.

Number of albatrosses in PGA Tour history242 (as of 2021)
Number of albatrosses in European Tour history101 (as of 2021)
Number of albatrosses in LPGA Tour history16 (as of 2021)

Since the creation of the PGA Tour in 1929, there have been a total of 242 albatrosses recorded in PGA Tour history. The European Tour has seen 101 albatrosses, while the LPGA Tour boasts only 16.

Notably, the 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale is known for yielding a high number of albatrosses, with three recorded at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open alone. This hole features a drivable par-4 that can allow for a well-executed tee shot to land on the green and roll into the cup for an albatross.

The Symbolism of the Albatross in Golf

“It’s the best feeling you can have in golf without your clothes on.”

While that may be a lighthearted quote by tour pro Chi Chi Rodriguez, it does attest to the prestige and honor associated with scoring an albatross. Often referred to as a “double eagle,” the term albatross is derived from the bird of the same name, symbolizing a rare and majestic achievement.

Notable Albatrosses in Golf History

Over the years, many professional golfers have achieved the rare feat of scoring an albatross in a tournament. These exceptional shots have often been the turning point in a player’s career, propelling them to victory and making history in the process.

One of the most memorable albatrosses in golf history was scored by Gene Sarazen in the 1935 Masters Tournament. On the par-5 fifteenth hole, Sarazen hit a stunning second shot with a four wood that landed on the green, bounced twice, and rolled into the hole for an albatross. This shot has since been referred to as the “shot heard ’round the world” and is considered one of the greatest shots in golf history.

In 2012, Louis Oosthuizen made history at the Masters Tournament by scoring an albatross on the par-5 second hole. He hit a perfect five-iron from 253 yards out that landed on the green and rolled straight into the hole. This was the fourth double eagle in Masters history and helped Oosthuizen finish second in the tournament.

Another unforgettable albatross was scored by Andrew Magee in the 2001 Phoenix Open. On the 17th hole, Magee hit his tee shot, which ricocheted off the head of another player’s driver and bounced onto the green for an albatross. This shot has been referred to as the “miracle on the 17th” and is considered one of the luckiest albatrosses in golf history.

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Albatross vs. Double Eagle: What’s the Difference?

It’s not uncommon for golfers to use the terms “albatross” and “double eagle” interchangeably, but they do have distinct meanings. In the United States, the term “double eagle” is used more frequently, while “albatross” is more commonly used in Europe and other parts of the world.


An albatross, also known as a “triple birdie,” is a golf score of three under par on a single hole. This means that the player was able to complete the hole in two strokes less than the predetermined par for the course. For example, if a hole is designated as a par-5, an albatross would be achieved by completing it in just two strokes.

Double Eagle

A double eagle, on the other hand, is a golf score of two under par on a single hole. Essentially, it’s the American equivalent of an albatross. However, in some parts of the world, such as Scotland, a double eagle is actually considered a better score than an albatross, as it is more difficult to achieve.

It’s worth noting that both terms are still relatively rare in the world of golf. In professional play, only a handful of albatrosses or double eagles are scored each year, making them highly sought-after accomplishments for players.

The Symbolism of the Albatross in Golf

Scoring an albatross in golf is not only a rare achievement, but it also carries symbolic meaning for players. The albatross is often seen as a symbol of good luck and a sign of exceptional skill.

“An albatross is just an amazing feeling. It’s like hitting a hole-in-one twice on the same hole. It’s just something that doesn’t happen often, and I think that’s why it’s so special to us.” – Phil Mickelson, professional golfer

Along with the sense of accomplishment that comes with scoring an albatross, many golfers view it as a sign that they are in tune with the game and have a deep understanding of their abilities and the course they are playing on. The rarity of the albatross only adds to its prestige and makes the achievement even more meaningful.

Some also believe that the albatross can bring good luck and positive energy to a player’s game. This belief is rooted in the fact that albatrosses are often seen as symbols of freedom and good fortune.

Overall, scoring an albatross is a testament to a player’s skill, strategy, and dedication to the game of golf. It is a rare and exceptional achievement that holds great significance in the world of golf.

Albatrosses in Popular Golf Courses

While scoring an albatross is an impressive feat on any golf course, there are certain courses that are more conducive to producing these rare shots. Some of the most famous golf courses that have seen multiple albatrosses include:

Golf CourseLocationNotable Albatrosses
Augusta National Golf ClubAugusta, Georgia, USAJeff Maggert (1994 Masters Tournament), Louis Oosthuizen (2012 Masters Tournament)
The Old Course at St. AndrewsSt. Andrews, ScotlandTiger Woods (1995 Dunhill Cup), Paul Casey (2017 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship)
TPC SawgrassPonte Vedra Beach, Florida, USAJerry Pate (1982 Players Championship), Greg Owen (2006 Players Championship)
Phoenix Country ClubPhoenix, Arizona, USAPhil Mickelson (1995 Phoenix Open), Yusaku Miyazato (2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open)

These courses are renowned for their challenging layouts, unique hole designs, and tough par-5s, which provide golfers with the opportunity to make long, accurate shots and potentially score an albatross.

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However, albatrosses can happen on any course, and golfers never know when their shot might be the next one to make history.

Equipment and Technology Impact on Albatrosses

The evolution of golf equipment and technology has had a significant impact on the frequency of albatrosses in recent years. The field has undergone a sea of change, with the arrival of better quality golf clubs, balls, and other equipment.

The modern golf ball is designed to travel further, thanks to advancements in the materials used and the aerodynamics of its design. As a result, golfers can hit longer shots, increasing their chances of scoring an albatross.

Golf clubs have also evolved with the introduction of titanium and graphite, which have reduced their weight and made them more forgiving. Better technology has enabled manufacturers to design clubs that allow golfers to hit shots with greater accuracy, power, and distance, making it easier to aim for a shot at an albatross.

Furthermore, the use of launch monitors and simulators helps golfers to fine-tune their swings and improve their technique, even when they’re not on the course. This allows players to practice hitting longer shots, which makes it easier to score an albatross when they’re out on the course.

Notwithstanding these technological advancements, scoring an albatross remains an elusive achievement, requiring skill, accuracy, and a bit of luck.

Albatrosses in Amateur Golf

While albatrosses are a rare feat in professional golf, they are even rarer in amateur play. The difficulty of achieving an albatross means amateurs are less likely to score one, but that doesn’t stop many golfers from dreaming of hitting the perfect shot.

One amateur who accomplished this feat is John Bland. Playing at the age of 75, Bland scored an albatross on the 507-yard, par-5 16th hole at the 2018 Gary Player Invitational. Bland said it was “the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life.”

Another amateur golfer, Robert Hamilton, scored an albatross on the 510-yard, par-5 18th hole at Kingussie Golf Club in Scotland. Hamilton’s shot was a 4-iron that landed just past the flag and spun back into the hole.

While these are just a few examples, they demonstrate that amateurs are also capable of achieving this rare golf shot. The satisfaction and thrill of scoring an albatross are no less significant for non-professional players, and the achievement remains a lifelong memory.

Strategies to Avoid the Albatross

Scoring an albatross is considered a rare and impressive achievement in golf. However, there may be instances where a golfer prefers to avoid such an accomplishment in favor of a more traditional birdie or eagle. Here are some humorous strategies to avoid scoring an albatross:

  • Take an extra shot: If you feel like you are on the verge of scoring an albatross, simply take an extra shot to avoid it altogether. This may not be the most competitive approach, but it is a surefire way to prevent an albatross from entering your scorecard.
  • Purposefully miss the shot: Another option is to purposely miss the shot that could potentially lead to an albatross. This can be done by hitting the ball too short or too far, aiming towards a hazard, or even intentionally hitting it out of bounds.
  • Play an alternate hole: If you are playing a friendly game of golf and want to avoid the pressure of an albatross, suggest playing an alternate hole that does not have the potential for such a rare score.

While these strategies may seem silly, they can provide a lighthearted approach to avoiding an albatross in golf. Ultimately, it is up to the golfer whether they want to embrace the challenge of scoring an albatross or avoid it altogether.


Scoring an albatross in golf is a rare and remarkable achievement that requires skill, strategy, and a bit of luck. As we’ve explored throughout this article, the albatross is one of the most elusive shots in golf, coveted by players of all skill levels.

From its symbolic meaning to the strategies that can help golfers increase their chances of achieving this feat, the albatross is a fascinating aspect of the game that captures the hearts and minds of golf enthusiasts around the world.

Whether you’re a professional golfer aiming to break records or an amateur player seeking to improve your game, the pursuit of an albatross is a challenge worth taking on.

As equipment and technology continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the frequency of albatrosses may change in the future. Regardless, the albatross will always remain a rare and exceptional achievement that demands respect and admiration.

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