What is an Albatross in Golf?

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The game of golf is no stranger to unique names for golf scores. From birdies to eagles, golfers know them all. But, did you know there is something called an albatross?

Only a few golfers have accomplished an albatross on the PGA and LPGA tour. This makes the albatross an elusive and impressive feat at any level. Learn the albatross definition below, and challenge yourself the next time you’re on the green.

How to Score an Albatross in Golf

Golf scores can sometimes be complicated, but in basic terms, an albatross is also known as a double eagle.

An albatross can only be achieved on par-4 and par-5 holes, as the definition of an albatross is a golfer that scores in two strokes on a par-5 or a hole in one on a par-4.

In terms of difficulty, the albatross is such a challenge because a par-5 hole is often a long fairway. Thus, in order to hit it in two, you would have to strike a great drive, and then still hit a second shot from more than 150 yards out.

According to William McCoy of Golfweek, in odds set by the National Hole in One Association, the chances of hitting an albatross are 6-million to 1.  Compare that to the chances of a professional golfer hitting a hole in one, which sit at 3,700 to 1.

While an albatross sounds like an almost impossible task, some professional golfers have been able to hit them. Gene Sarazen, now a PGA legend, was the first golfer to hit an albatross in the 1935 Masters.

One of the reasons the albatross is so difficult among golf scores is because of how limiting it can be. The average 18-hole golf course will only offer about two to three par-5 holes. Because of this, the odds shrink considerably for a professional golfer, much less an amateur.

5 Common Golf Scores and Terms Every Golfer Should Know

Now that you know one of the most obscure golf terms around, there are a few that every golfer should know. These include:

  • Par: The first term any golfer will learn in scoring is par. Par is basically the amount of strokes it would take an expert golfer to complete a specific hole. So a par-3, would mean it takes a pro golfer three strokes to complete that hole.
  • Birdie: Probably the most achievable under par score, a birdie is one stroke under par.
  • Bogey: A bogey is the only term that means over par. Probably the last thing a golfer wants to see on their score card, a bogey can get even worse with a double bogey and triple bogey, which mean two and three over par respectively.
  • Eagle: Following the bird theme, an eagle is two under par. Outside of a hole in one; an eagle is a great achievement for a day on the course.
  • Hole in One: There’s a good chance you’ve hit one in mini-golf, but a hole in one on a traditional golf course is one of the hardest scores to achieve.

Where do Golf Terms Come From?

Golf is considered one of the oldest sports around, so learning where the golf scores and terms come from is somewhat of a challenge. Scoring was developed as a way to standardize the challenge of the game. If players had a standard par for each hole, they could determine whether or not they were a good golfer.

According to the USGA, the terms birdie and eagle originated in the United States. H.B. Martin used the term birdie in 1899 in his book “Fifty Year of American Golf.” The term was used because bird “refereed to anyone or anything excellent or wonderful.” Once birds were used as the set standard for a good score, eagle was the next logical step.

Bogie on the other hand, was coined across the pond in the 1890s. Bogey was the term originally used in place of par, and was a desirable score to achieve. Once par became the standard, bogey shifted to represent any stroke count over par.

The history of golf is extensive, which is why learning the history is such an important goal for any golfer. Many of the terms were coined in either England or Scotland, and are abbreviations for common terms. ‘Fore’ is a great example of this. Used as an abbreviation for ‘before,’ the term is now commonplace on the green.

Now that you know the common golf terminology, and some of their origins, you can hit the course sounding like a pro.

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