What Is An Albatross In Golf?

A golfer jumping in happiness on hitting albatross

An albatross is a golf term referring to a player scoring three shots under par on one hole. In this article, you will learn about it in detail and the ways to achieve it.

Bird references such as birdie, eagle, and albatross are the common golf terms and are associated with golf scores. Albatross in golf refers to a remarkable feat that golfers achieve. 

Hole-in-one, albatross, and condor are three desired golfing achievements. Like the rare albatross bird, an albatross in golf is rare and exciting.

I. What is an albatross in golf?

Albatross, also known as double-eagle, is a golf score term that means you scored three strokes less than the specific hole’s par rating.

There are only three possibilities to achieve an albatross

  • A score of 1 on a par 4
  • A score of 2 on a par 5
  • A score of 3 on a par 6

II. History of the albatross in golf

The USGA, has traced the origin of the term “birdie” to the United States in 1899. Later on, one score above a birdie was called the eagle, and two above a birdie was referred to as “double eagle” or “albatross.”

Gene Sarazen was the first professional golfer to hit an albatross in one of the four modern major events. He achieved this record in the 1935 masters tournament at the 15th hole. This had resulted in a tie and thus required a playoff, which he won.

III. Strategies to Increase the Chances to achieve albatross

Let’s have a look at strategies to increase the chances of achieving albatross:

For Par-5 Holes:

  • Choose a smart starting point off the tee.
  • Focus on optimal positioning for the second shot.
  • Practice accuracy and distance control with long irons and fairway woods.

For Par-4 Holes:

  • Enhance driving skills for powerful and accurate shots.
  • Implement smart course management decisions.

IV. Memorable Moments in Albatross History

Several renowned golfers, who have managed to achieve albatrosses during their careers are:

1. Gene Sarazen -“The Miracle shot”

In 1935, Gene Sarazen became the first pro golfer to score an albatross at the Masters Tournament. This incredible feat happened on the 15th hole, known as “Firethorn.” Using a 4-wood, he hit the ball from 235 yards away, and it landed straight into the cup.

This remarkable shot helped him win the tournament and made him a legend in golf. Gene Sarazen’s albatross is a historic moment that golf fans still talk about today.

2. Shaun Micheel at the 2007 PGA Championship

In the 2007 PGA Championship during the final round, he scored an albatross on the par-5 2nd hole. This incredible shot helped him secure a tie for seventh place in the tournament.

Another memorable moment occurred in the 2006 PGA Championship when, on the par-5 7th hole at Medinah Country Club, Micheel made a magical 6-iron approach shot from 175 yards that went straight into the hole. This albatross played a crucial role in him winning his first and only major championship title.

3. Louis Oosthuizen Creates Sunday Magic At Augusta National

In 2012 at The Masters, Louis Oosthuizen made history with an albatross on the dogleg left par 5, the second hole. This extraordinary achievement set him apart in the tournament.

Despite a strong overall performance, he lost the green jacket in a playoff against Bubba Watson.

4. Nicholas Thompson 

Professional golfer Nicholas Thompson achieved albatrosses in 2009 at the Fry.com Open. During the match, he aced an extraordinary performance by scoring two albatrosses in a single round.

The first one occurred on a par-5 hole, where he managed to complete the hole in just two shots below par. Impressively, just two holes later on a par-3, he hit a hole-in-one.

5. Andrew Magee’s Lucky Bounce

In 2001 at the Waste Management Open, PGA Tour player Andrew Magee shot double eagle on the short par 4 17th hole. He took his shot while the group ahead of him was on the putting green.

To everyone’s surprise, Magee’s ball not only reached the green but also bounced off Tom Byrum’s putter and ended up in the hole, making for an extraordinary albatross.

6. Joey Sindelar Makes History In The PGA Championship

In the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah, Joey Sindelar achieved an impressive feat by executing a shot with a 3-wood from 241 yards away on the par 5th hole.

This marked the third occurrence of such a feat in the history of this major championship.

V. Factors that influence your ability to hit an albatross

Here are some common factors that influence your ability to hit an albatross:

1. Nature

When you hit a ball from a distance, several natural elements, such as wind, ground conditions, and trees, come into play. 

  • Ground: Firm ground is ideal for albatross as it adds bounce and roll to the ball.
  • Wind: The wind direction and speed can be both beneficial and harmful in hitting an albatross. It can either add or reduce the trajectory of your ball, thus affecting its distance.
  • Trees: It’s part of the game to bounce off trees. Sometimes it can even help you get closer to the hole. But favorable bounces are not always guaranteed.

2. Man-made obstacles

Man-made obstacles, like bunkers, water bodies, etc., also influence the possibility of hitting an albatross. 

For example, golf courses with a hilly landscape would have more drastic elevation changes that would then impact your game. Downhill shots cause the ball to bounce and roll further while decreasing the distance it has to travel to the hole.

VI. Tips for scoring an albatross

Even pro golfers find it difficult to score an albatross. Although it is incredibly difficult, you still have a chance to hit an albatross if you improve your skills. Here are some tips for scoring an albatross in golf:

1. Improve your ball control

If you are a golf enthusiast looking to hit an albatross, you need to ensure that you have strong ball control. To improve your ball control, you must practice regularly and understand what type of shots work best for different situations.

2. Get familiar with the course

Getting familiar with the course improves your chances of scoring an albatross. Playing repeatedly, or at least regularly on the same course, can help you plan your shots better when you know what’s in store.

3. Use the right club 

The right club can make a huge difference in your shot. While irons are great for middle-ground shots, drivers are good when playing on a par-four course. Make sure you choose the right one for each situation and use it to your advantage.

4. Try it in the fairway

The fairway is usually the ideal place for hitting an albatross. The wide-open space gives you a better chance to play what you need to and increases your shot’s distance. So try practicing in the fairway for better results.

5. Work on your ability to hit the ball far

For scoring an albatross, you need to be able to hit the ball far. Work on your ability by practicing with drivers, practicing your swing technique, and keeping a consistent tempo. However, it needs both mental and physical strength to hit the ball far. Thus, it is important to remain focused on what you are doing.

VII. How rare is an albatross in golf?

Albatross is an extremely rare golf score, and it is even more difficult to achieve in the majors. Golfers must have extraordinary skill and luck to record this feat. Believe us. I If you see someone scoring an albatross on a golf course, you will remember it forever. It is such an exciting and rare event.

Popular professional golfers like Tiger Woods were not able to hit an albatross. In Waste Management Phoenix Open 2015, Tiger Woods played on par 5, and his first shot was a 329 -yard drive. However, in his second shot, he missed the albatross by just 7 inches.

In fact, only a handful of players, such as Gene Sarazen, Nicholas Thompson, and Jack Nicklaus, have ever achieved it in tournaments.

VIII. Facts about albatrosses in major tournaments  

Here is a list of the number of albatrosses achieved in the major tournaments

  • 18 in men’s major tournaments
  • 4 in women’s major tournaments
  • 3 in the PGA Championship (last recorded in 2006)
  • 18 in The Open Championship (last recorded in 2009)
  • 4 in the Masters (last recorded in 2012)
  • 3 in the U.S Open (last recorded in 2012)
  • 3 in the Women’s Open Championship (last recorded in 2014)


Ultimately, hitting an albatross is no easy feat for any golfer. Thus, it is important to be patient and practice more to improve your chances. With careful planning, practice, and consistency, you will be able to hit an albatross one day.


1. Is Albatross Better Than Hole-in-One?

No, albatross is not better than Hole in One. Although, an albatross and a hole-in-one are both remarkable achievements in golf. However, they differ in terms of scoring. An albatross is scored three under par, whereas a hole-in-one’s impact depends on the par of the specific hole.

2. Is a Double Eagle the Same as an Albatross?

Yes, in technical terms, an albatross is equivalent to a double eagle.

3. What Is Better Than an Albatross? 

In golf, a condor is better than albatross. It is also known as double albatross or triple eagle and is achieved by scoring four strokes under par on a single hole.

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