What is the Meaning of Albatross in Golf?

In golf, an albatross is a score of 3 under par (-3) on any individual hole. It’s a rare accomplishment but when it happens it can surely boost momentum in your favor, taking 3 strokes off your score relative to par.

To score an albatross in golf, here’s the breakdown for each hole’s par:

  • Par 4 = just one shot
  • Par 5 = just two shots

An albatross is not possible on a par 3 hole since making a hole in 1 would only be two under par (-2). However, making a hole in one on a Par 4 hole is possible (but rare) so making an albatross in this case could happen.

On Par 5 holes, you’ll typically see golfers hit their tee shot into rough or fairway and follow it up with a second shot that lands on the green and roles into the cup.

It’s unlikely a Par 5 hole is short enough for a golfer to drive the tee shot onto the green and have a putt for albatross.

Almost all albatross scores occur when a golfer lands an iron shot or driver / wood / hybrid shot on the green from far away and get’s the lucky roll into the cup.

Here’s a fun compilation video to watch of golfers making an Albatross on the PGA Tour

Why is an Albatross also called Double Eagle?

In addition to hearing golfers use the term albatross, you might also hear them use the golf term “double eagle” when referring to a -3 under par score on an individual golf hole.

Where the term double eagle came from is a mystery and it doesn’t add up when you think about it logically.

A normal eagle is two under par (-2) so a double eagle would be (-4) which is why it doesn’t make since that someone coined the term for (-3) in replacement of Albatross.

Most continents around the world use the term Albatross but in America you may find double eagle used more often. However, Albatross is a fun, weird word to say which is why it still remains the most used word of the two by golfers when referring to a three under score.

History of the Term Albatross

The golf term Albatross can be dated back to the early 1900’s with press published in the 1920’s and 1930’s referencing the term. It’s hard to say with certainty who scored the first ever albatross and who came up with the term as their are multiple claims.

Gene Sarazen had a famous albatross in the 1935 Master’s to help him play in a playoff where he would eventually win the Master’s tournament.

Before that, however, was P.H. White who mentioned albatross on British soil in his match which he would lose.

Others account that young Tom Morris in 1870 had the first 3 under albatross to win the Belt. This was an era where par scores did not exist yet.

But golf historians say that Morris played the 1st hole a Prestwick golf course that would have been rated a par 6 at 578 yards and his score of 3 on the par 6 would have counted as 3 under par for an albatross. (National Press in September of 1870)

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