What is an Eagle in Golf (and How to Get One)

by | Last updated Mar 13, 2024

What is an Eagle in Golf

Golf is a sport rich in tradition, with a lexicon reflecting its history and play’s nuances. Among the most coveted achievements on the course is the eagle, a term that sparks excitement among golfers of all skill levels. But what is an eagle in golf, and how does one achieve this celebrated score? This article drops deep into the essence of the eagle, offering insights and strategies to help you notch that impressive score on your belt.

Understanding Golf Scores

At its core, golf is a game of perfection, strategy, and endurance, with players aiming to complete each hole in as few strokes as possible. The term “eagle” signifies scoring two strokes under par on a given hole. For instance, if a golfer manages to sink the golf ball in only three shots on a par five-hole, that’s an eagle. This score is one of several bird-related terms used in golf to denote how well a golfer performs relative to the par of a hole, with others including birdie (one stroke under par) and the rare albatross or double eagle (three strokes under par), which is extremely rare and a moment of distinction even among professional golfers.

Understanding Golf Scores

Historical Context

The term “eagle” first soared into the golfing lexicon at the onset of the 20th century. According to Maclean Magazine, the term likely originated from American golfers. As the story goes, when a player scored two under par at the Atlantic City Country Club, a group member called it a “bird of a score.” This term quickly evolved into “eagle” for a double-under-par score, possibly drawing from the stock exchange term where “eagle” represented a significant gain. The bird-themed scoring terms, including “birdie” and the mythical “bogeyman” or “mister bogey,” reflecting the Scottish goblin believed to set the standard score or par for each hole, add a playful and historical layer to the game’s terminology.

The Rarity of Eagles

Achieving an eagle is a significant feat, indicative of a golfer’s skill and precision. Statistics show that eagles are rare, even among professional players, making them all the more special. The probability of scoring an eagle varies depending on the type of hole:

  • Par 3s: Nearly impossible, as it would require a hole-in-one.
  • Par 4s: Requires a skilled golfer to either drive the green on their tee shot and one-putt or approach closely with their second shot and sink a long putt.
  • Par 5s: More common here, as players can arrive at the green in two shots and then use one putt to complete the hole.

Factors contributing to the difficulty of scoring an eagle include the golf course layout, weather conditions, and the golfer’s skill level and strategy. Due to these challenges, most golfers, even the good ones, rarely experience the thrill of making an eagle.

Famous Eagles in Golf History

Throughout golf history, there have been many iconic moments where players have achieved an eagle under high-pressure situations, often changing the course of tournaments. These moments are celebrated and remembered for their dramatic impact:

  • Iconic Moments: List critical instances where eagles have turned the tide in significant tournaments, including memorable shots by legendary golfers on the most challenging golf courses worldwide.
  • Impact on Career and Tournament Outcomes: These eagles secure a player’s position in the annals of golf history and demonstrate the incredible skill and mental fortitude needed to compete at the highest levels.

Techniques and Strategies for Achieving an Eagle

trying eagle in golf

Preparation and Practice

Scoring an eagle begins long before a golfer steps onto the course. It involves meticulous preparation, including consistent practice sessions focusing on driving distance, accuracy, and mastering the short game. Mental preparation is equally crucial, with visualization techniques and goal setting playing a significant part in a golfer’s success.

Technical Skills

A golfer aiming for an eagle needs to excel in several technical areas:

  • Driving for Distance: Achieving maximum distance on the tee shot is crucial, especially on par 5s, where reaching the green in two shots opens up the possibility of an eagle.
  • Accuracy and Approach Shots: Precision in approaching the green can significantly reduce the number of strokes needed to complete the hole. This requires a deep understanding of golf shot types and the ability to execute them under pressure.


While skill and strategy are paramount, having the right equipment can enhance a golfer’s ability to achieve an eagle. This includes selecting clubs that balance distance and accuracy, tailored to the golfer’s swing and the specific challenges of each course.

Course Management and Tactical Play

Understanding the layout and nuances of the golf course is essential for any golfer looking to score an eagle. This includes knowing when to take risks with more aggressive shots and when to opt for a more conservative strategy. Course management skills are honed over time and can significantly influence a golfer’s ability to score under par.

Golf ball putting

Practice Drills and Exercises

To prepare for the challenge of scoring an eagle, golfers should incorporate specific drills and exercises into their practice routine:

Mental Game and Psychological Strategies

The mental aspect of golf must be balanced, especially when aiming for an eagle. Techniques for managing pressure, maintaining focus, and staying positive can make the difference between a near miss and a victorious eagle.

Real-life Stories and Testimonials

Hearing from golfers who have achieved an eagle can provide valuable insights and inspiration. These stories highlight the perseverance, practice, and strategic thinking that go into making these memorable shots.


Scoring an eagle is a testament to a golfer’s skill, strategy, and mental strength. While unfamiliar, pursuing an eagle adds an exciting layer to the game of golf, continually pushing players to strive for excellence. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an energetic amateur, the strategies and insights provided here can help you get closer to achieving that elusive eagle on the course. Remember, every shot toward an eagle is a step toward mastering the beautiful and challenging game of golf.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an eagle in golf?

An eagle in golf is a score that denotes completing a hole in two strokes fewer than the hole’s par. For example, scoring an eagle on a par five-hole means finishing the hole in three strokes. Achieving this demonstrates a golfer’s high skill level and is a sought-after achievement in playing golf.

How many strokes is a double bogey?

A double bogey finishes a hole in two strokes over the hole’s par in golf. For instance, taking six strokes to complete the hole on a par four would result in a double bogey. It indicates a performance below the expected standard for a particular hole.

Can you explain the term “golf eagle” and how it differs from birdies and bogeys?

A “golf eagle” means completing a hole two strokes under par, highlighting exceptional play. In contrast, a birdie is one stroke under par and a bogey over par. Therefore, an eagle is significantly better than a birdie and a bogey, with birdies being more common and bogeys indicating slightly above-par performance.

What does “normal or par figure” mean in golfing terms?

The “normal or par figure” in golfing terms refers to the expected number of strokes an average golfer should take to complete a hole, considering the distance and difficulty of the hole. Par figures vary from holes, typically three to five strokes, and serve as a standard to gauge performance.

How does an amateur or average golfer achieve an eagle?

Achieving an eagle requires an amateur or average golfer to play exceptionally well, combining precision, power, and strategy. This often involves a strong tee shot from the tee box, accurate approach shots, and potentially one shot less to reach the green on longer holes. Practice, understanding the course, and selecting the right golf shots are crucial to reducing strokes and aspiring towards an eagle.