What is an Albatross in Golf?

by | Last updated Jun 12, 2024

what is an albatross in golf

Landing a birdie (one stroke under par) in golf is a good day.

Snagging an eagle (two strokes under par) is an exceptional achievement.

But do you know what is an Albatross in Golf?

It’s one of the rarest shots in the entire sport, also known as a double eagle, and it’s the stuff of golfing legends.


An albatross in golf is one of the rarest and most exciting feats, requiring exceptional skill and some luck. It involves sinking the ball in 3 strokes under par, usually on a par five hole. While incredibly rare, it’s a dream shot for golfers of all levels.

The Albatross: Defined

An albatross in golf means scoring three strokes under par on a single hole.

Here’s how the scoring terms rank:

  • Bogey: One stroke over par
  • Par: The designated number of strokes for the hole
  • Birdie: One stroke under par
  • Eagle: Two strokes under par
  • Albatross (Double Eagle): Three strokes under par

How to Score an Albatross

  • The Typical Path: Since par five holes are the longest on a standard golf course, most albatrosses are scored here. It requires two extraordinary shots—a booming drive that sets you up nicely and an approach shot that lands in the hole.
  • The Hole-in-One Route: An even more elusive hole-in-one on a par four hole also counts as an albatross!
Shooting golf ball

Just How Rare is an Albatross?

It’s incredibly, mind-bogglingly rare.

Think of it this way: the odds of a regular golfer hitting a hole-in-one are about 12,500 to 1 Albatrosses are estimated to be a million-to-one shot!

Even professional golfers like Tiger Woods have only had a handful in their careers.

Why’s it Called an Albatross?

The majestic albatross is a bird famed for its long wingspan and soaring ability.

It symbolizes the vast distances a golfer must cover with just a few strokes to achieve this feat.

Can You Increase Your Chances?

While scoring an albatross always has some luck involved, you can tilt the odds slightly in your favor:

  • Powerful Drives: The further you hit the ball off the tee, the better your chance of getting close enough to the hole in two shots.
  • Course Knowledge: If you know a course well, target par five spots with layouts that favor your play style.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Hone your long-distance shots to give yourself the best chance possible.

Famous Albatrosses

Some notable albatrosses in golf history include:

  • Gene Sarazen: Scored one of the most famous albatrosses ever on the 15th hole in the final round of the 1935 Masters – propelling him to victory.
  • Louis Oosthuizen: Landed an albatross on the 2nd hole of the 2012 Masters with a stunning 4-iron.

An Elusive Dream

Scoring an albatross is a dream for most golfers.

While it takes extraordinary skill and some luck, the thrill of sinking that second shot on par 5 (or a hole-in-one on par 4) is unforgettable.

Keep playing, keep practicing – you never know when that magical moment might happen!

The Elusive Appeal of the Albatross

It’s not just the rarity of the albatross that makes it appealing.

There’s a mystique surrounding it.

The term ‘albatross’ was only expected in golf scoring in the early 20th century.

Before that, this incredible shot was sometimes called a “Bogey Man” – showcasing its extraordinary place in the game.

Albatrosses in the Pro World

While an albatross is a bragging right for any golfer, it holds special significance on the PGA Tour.

Some of golf’s most excellent, like Jack Nicklaus, scored very few, if any, in their storied careers.

This shows just how complex the albatross is, even for the best in the world.

Golf ball near putt

Beyond Technique

Getting an albatross is about more than just hitting great shots.

The correct course and even some good fortune play their part:

  • Wind Conditions: A favorable wind can significantly affect long holes.
  • Green Design: Some greens are more receptive to a perfectly struck approach, increasing the chance of the ball rolling in.

The Albatross: A Symbol of Golfing Excellence

Whether you’re a pro hoping to etch your name into golf history or a weekend player chasing an elusive hole-in-one.

The albatross represents a pinnacle of achievement in the game.

The term evokes images of powerful flight and the thrill of beating the odds, making it one of the most coveted feats on any golf course.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can any golf ball be used to score an albatross?

Yes! While different golf balls offer varying performance characteristics like spin or distance, there are no restrictions on the type of ball you can use to score an albatross.

Do albatrosses only happen on golf courses with par-five holes?

While most albatrosses happen on par five holes due to their length, scoring a rare albatross through a hole-in-one on a par four hole is technically possible.

Is an albatross considered harder to achieve than a hole-in-one?

Due to the additional shot required, an albatross (especially on a par five hole) is considered extremely rare and generally more difficult to achieve than a traditional hole-in-one.

Is there a particular term for scoring worse than an albatross?

Yes! Just as an albatross is three under par, scoring four under par on a hole is sometimes called a “condor.” However, this is extremely rare and not an officially recognized golf term.

How does an albatross compare to other golf-scoring terms like birdie and eagle?

An albatross is a step above a birdie (one under par) and an eagle (two under par). It’s one of the rarest and most impressive feats a golfer can achieve on a single hole.