You can play golf for decades and never record an albatross on your scorecard. It’s hard to make a hole-in-one on a par 3, but an albatross (aka double eagle) is truly a rare feat.
The vast majority of amateur golfers will never do it.
It takes a combination of skill and luck. Length and good fortune. You can’t go to the golf course trying to make an albatross, but it happens every once in a while. It’ll occur when you least expect it and you’ll remember it forever.
Let’s explore the “rarest of birds” — the Albatross.
What Is An Albatross?
An albatross is one of many golf-scoring terms. We all know that a birdie is 1-under par. You’re probably aware that an eagle is 2-under par.
Have you ever wondered what to call it if you’re 3-under par on a single hole?
You guessed it, golfers call it an albatross.
Just some simple math would tell you that you can’t make an albatross on a par 3 hole. Sort of impossible to make a 0. With this in mind, there are only two ways to make a “double eagle.” It would be a hole-in-one on a par-4 hole or a 2 on a par-5 hole.
How often do you drive par 4s or hit par 5s in two?
How To Get An Albatross In Golf?
The odds of making a hole-in-one on a par 3 are approximately 12,500 to 1. In comparison, an albatross is so rare that it’s hard to estimate the odds. Our best guess, your chances are 6,000,000 to 1.
Yes, 6 million to 1, so don’t hold your breath!
The biggest challenge is the distance. 99%+ of the par-4 holes you play are simply too long for you to make on your first shot.
The most likely albatross will be on a par-5 hole where you make your second shot.
With this in mind, your chances of shooting three under par on a single hole will come down to the design of the hole. It needs to be short enough to even give you a chance.
Do professional golfers have a better chance to score an albatross than the average golfer?
Yes, for a couple of reasons. First, they have more length, so their odds of driving the green on a par 4 or hitting par 5 in two are much better.
Second, they hit more high-quality golf shots that are going to land near the hole and have a chance of going in.
Unless you can drive a par-5 hole, you’ll never have a putt for an Albatross.
Finally, we don’t care if you’re Tiger Woods or a 25-handicapper, making an albatross requires luck.
4 Tips For Scoring An Albatross
1. Play Aggressively
Let’s be honest, you can’t make an albatross by playing it safe. In the history of the game of golf, no one ever made a double eagle by laying up!
If you reach a short par-4 hole (less than 300 yards) you need to pull out the driver and aim for the flag.
If you hit the fairway on a short par-5 hole, pull out your 3-wood and try to make your second shot.
There’s an old golf joke that “99% of putts that come up short don’t go in” — the same is true when you’re trying to make an albatross.
2. Focus On The Par 5s
If you’re going to make an albatross, it’s probably going to happen on a par 5. If your goal is to make an eagle or a double eagle, you’ll need to go for the green in two.
This means that you may need to hit a very accurate 3-wood or long iron and if you make a bad swing, bogey or worse will end up on your scorecard. Just remember, fortune favors the bold.
3. Work On Your Golf Game & Swing
Yes, we know we’re stating the obvious, but better players have a better chance of making an albatross.
No one ever made a double eagle by duffing, shanking, or chilly dipping shots. You’ll need to hit long & straight tee shots. If you have a goal of being one of the few amateur golfers who make one, you’ll need to practice.
Spend time on the range at your local country club and you’ll improve your odds.
4. Don’t Forget Your Rabbit’s Foot
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We don’t care if you’re in the golf hall of fame, if you make an albatross, there was luck involved.
Yes, you need to hit great golf shots, but you also need the golf gods to smile on you. Good luck!
Famous Albatross Moments In Golf
There have been several notable albatrosses in golf history. They’ve happened in major championships and in crazy ways (see Andrew Magee below).
Here are our favorites from golf tournaments around the world.
Gene Sarazen & “The Shot Heard Around The World”
It was the Masters in 1935 and Gene Sarazen had fallen a few strokes off the lead in his final round. He reached the par 15th hole needing a miracle and he found it in the form of an albatross.
Many golf historians consider this the first signature moment of this prestigious event. Sarazen made par on his last 3 holes and won the tournament the next day in a playoff.
Andrew Magee’s Lucky Bounce
PGA Tour players produce highlights every weekend, but Andrew Magee’s albatross in 2001 might be the craziest one you will ever see.
He reached the short par 4 17th golf hole at the Waste Management Open and hit while the group in front of him was putting on the green.
Magee was shocked when his golf ball reached the green, bounced off Tom Byrum’s putter, and dropped in the hole.
Louis Oosthuizen Creates Sunday Magic At Augusta National
The year was 2012. The hole was #2 and the golfer was Louis Oosthuizen.
He made his approach shot on the dogleg left par 5 to become the only person in history to make albatross on that hole during The Masters tournament.
This was early in his round of golf but played well the rest of the day - he sadly lost the green jacket in a playoff versus Bubba Watson.
Joey Sindelar Makes History In The PGA Championship
Joey Sindelar made a 3-wood from 241 yards away on the par 5th in the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah. It was the 3rd in the history of this major championship.
We loved his quote after his round: “The fun part is it started getting in my mind about five years ago that I hadn't had one. I couldn't retire without one.”
He added, “I would have taken it in a practice round. Instead, I get to do it after making the cut, in a major.”
We love that even PGA Tour professionals understand how rare and lucky albatrosses are!
Are You Going To Make An Albatross?
If we’re being honest, probably not, but that’s okay. Golf is about the journey, not the destination. When you get the chance, aim at the flag, and make an aggressive swing. Who knows, your golf ball might find the bottom of the hole.
We aren’t sure if you’ll ever make a double eagle, but we do know what you should do if it happens.
Celebrate like crazy and save that golf ball. We hope the golf gods smile on you!