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What's an Albatross in Golf?

Editorial Team
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Updated: Mar 07, 2024
whats an albatross in golf

An albatross, also known as a double eagle, is one of golf's rarest and most spectacular shots. It occurs when a golfer sinks their ball into the hole with three strokes under par. The term “albatross” has been around since the early days of golf and can be traced back to Scotland, where it was used to refer to an excellent score on a hole.  

To lower your score, try out the best putting green and practice when you can’t make it out to the course. 

The Conditions for an Albatross

The conditions of an albatross are quite specific and must be met for a score to qualify. Generally, the minimum hole required is at least a par-5 or longer, though it is technically possible for it to happen if someone gets a hole-in-one on a par 4. This is due to the fact that it requires three strokes under par to achieve this prestigious score.

To record an albatross, a golfer must score:

  • A hole-in-one on a par 4
  • A score of 2 on a par 5
  • A score of 3 on a par 6

In comparison, an eagle is scored when a golfer gets:

  • A hole-in-one on a par 3
  • A score of 2 on a par 4
  • A score of 3 on a par 5
  • Or a score of 4 on a par 6

A birdie is a score that reflects hitting one under par, such as:

  • A score of 2 on a par 3
  • A score of 3 on a par 4
  • A score of 4 on a par 5
  • Or a score of 5 on a par 6

Factors Affecting an Albatross

Certainly, skill plays a big role in a golfer's chance at an albatross. However, luck also plays a part in determining whether or not someone succeeds at sinking one of these remarkable shots. Weather and course conditions can also play a significant role in your chance of scoring an albatross.

The biggest challenge with such a shot, on a par 5, for instance, is that a golfer must hit two perfect shots. The first one needs to get them close enough to aim for the green on their second shot, and the second one needs to not only land on the green but continue straight into the hole with the proper accuracy and speed.

According to PGA.com, the odds of hitting an albatross in golf are actually worse than the odds of hitting a hole-in-one.

Different estimates claim that the odds of an average golfer hitting an albatross range from one million to one all the way up to six million to one. This implies that there is a greater likelihood of experiencing a lightning strike (1 in 15,300) than achieving one of these golf scores.

Etiquette of An Albatross

Because an albatross is so rare, many golf clubs have established special ceremonies to honor those who are able to do it successfully. During these ceremonies, the player is often given a trophy or other prize to honor their great achievement. 

Some tournaments may also give extra prizes to anyone who hits an albatross during competition play. These awards can range from monetary rewards to gifts like specially designed equipment or apparel commemorating the achievement.

Another tradition, at least for a hole-in-one, is that the golfer responsible for it buys a round of drinks for their playing partners or other golfers hanging out in the clubhouse. There's nothing specifically for a double-eagle, but considering it's a more challenging feat than an ace, perhaps it should be two rounds of drinks!

Famous Albatrosses

The most recent albatross at the Masters tournament belongs to Louis Oosthuizen, who hit one on the second hole in 2012. In 2016, Oosthouzin scored a hole-in-one during the Masters, becoming the only golfer with both an ace and an albatross in the tournament.

The first recorded albatross in The Masters' history belongs to Gene Sarazen on the 15th hole in 1935. It helped Gene make up a three-stroke deficit and force a playoff with Craig Wood. Sarazen won the playoff and became the winner of the Masters Tournament that year.

The next albatross at the Masters happened 32 years later when Bruce Devlin holed a 4-wood on the 8th hole in 1967. However, he would not have the same overall success that Gene Sarazen had. Bruce went on to finish 10th in the tournament.

Albatrosses are so rare in professional golf that even Tiger Woods, whom many consider the greatest golfer of all time with 82 wins and 198 top-ten finishes, does not have one on his record.

Final Thoughts

The albatross is undoubtedly one of the most impressive feats a golfer can achieve and something to remember for a lifetime. The odds of scoring an albatross are certainly not in the favor of a golfer, but with some skill and a little bit of luck, it is attainable.

The next time you have a chance, go for it! As the saying goes, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

While you’re likely not going to putt out for a chance at a double eagle, putting is a significant part of scoring low in golf. Consider an indoor putting mat to improve your putting skills.

Achieving an albatross in golf is a rare and remarkable feat, reflecting a player's precision and skill. It's a testament to the importance of practice, both on the course and off. For golf enthusiasts aiming to refine their putting skills and perhaps dream of scoring an albatross one day, investing in the best indoor putting mat can provide a convenient and effective way to hone their game year-round. This tool allows players to work on their strokes even when stepping onto the green isn't an option, keeping their technique sharp and their confidence high.

Editorial Team
By Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
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