In the mesmerizing world of golf, where skill meets luck, there exists a feat so rare it eclipses even the celebrated hole-in-one.
Welcome to the realm of the ‘double eagle,’ an achievement as elusive as it is exhilarating, forever etched in the annals of golfing legend.
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With its rich lexicon, golf is a world steeped in tradition and complex terminology. One term golfers often encounter is the “double eagle,” a phrase that reverberates with a reverberating roar around the green.
The double eagle, also called an “albatross,” is one of the rarest shots in golf, even rarer than the celebrated “hole in one.” The phrase conjures images of golfers making a spectacular second shot, the ball spinning directly to the hole, and the loud shout of triumph when the ball finally disappears.
What is a Double Eagle in Golf?
A double eagle, or an “albatross,” scores three strokes under par on a given hole. In layman’s terms, a golfer completes a hole in three strokes fewer than the par score. This could happen on a par five hole where a golfer makes the hole in two shots, or on a par 4, where it takes just one shot.
Even an eagle, which is two strokes under par, is commendable, but a double eagle is something else entirely. It’s akin to hitting a golf jackpot – a feat many professionals on the PGA tour have never accomplished.
The Origin of the Double Eagle Term
The term “double eagle” is uniquely American in golf. The phrase’s exact origin is unclear, but its usage can be traced back to the early 20th century, according to the Atlanta Constitution.
An eagle represents a score of two strokes under par, so the term double eagle, essentially meaning an “eagle and a half,” evolved from that. Some believe the phrase may be a play on words from the “double elephant,” a term for a large printed book or folio.
Hole in One vs. Double Eagle: Understanding the Difference
While a hole-in-one, where a golfer scores an ace with a single shot, is a rare and spectacular event, the double eagle is even rarer. Imagine stepping up to a par five hole, teeing off, and watching as your ball sails considerably and rolls into the hole on your first attempt. That’s a hole-in-one. Now imagine doing the exact same thing but on a par four hole. That’s a double eagle, or as some might say a “double miracle.”
How Rare is a Double Eagle?
Double eagles are among the rarest occurrences in golf. While a hole-in-one is relatively more common, double eagles, or albatrosses, are few and far between. According to the PGA Tour, fewer than 20 officially recorded double eagles have occurred since the organization’s inception.
On the other hand, hole-in-ones occur much more frequently. For example, the famous TPC Sawgrass course has seen many more hole-in-ones than double eagles.
Celebrated Double Eagles in Golf History
Many famous double eagles have punctuated golf’s storied history. Still, few have captured the public’s imagination, like Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard Round the World” at Augusta National during the 1935 Masters Tournament. Facing a three-shot deficit, Sarazen hit a four-wood from 235 yards out on the 15th hole, scoring a double eagle in one of the most dramatic moments in Masters history.
The First Double Eagle
American golfers have a storied history with the double eagle, beginning with Craig Wood’s feat in 1933. Wood, playing at the Augusta Country Club, made the first recorded double eagle in golf history, on the same hole where Gene Sarazen’s double miracle happened just two years later.
Memorable Double Eagles on the PGA Tour
The PGA tour has witnessed some memorable double eagles. Hunter Mahan’s second shot on the par-5 572 yards 13th hole during the 2007 Barclays was one for the history books. He made a rifle shot with a fairway wood that landed just short of the green, took a few hops, and rolled into the hole.
Another unforgettable moment was Lou Graham’s double eagle at the 1975 Danny Thomas Memphis Classic. He managed a two on a par 5 – the same round he shot a hole-in-one, becoming one of the few golfers to achieve two eagles in the same round.
How to Score a Double Eagle: Strategy and Skill
Scoring a double eagle requires a high degree of skill and good luck. The golfer needs to master the art of the long iron or wood shot and also have the fortune of the ball rolling or bouncing favorably once it hits the green. A double eagle is a perfect storm of ideal conditions, precise execution, and a touch of luck.
Hole Design and its Impact on Double Eagles
The design of a hole plays a crucial role in the likelihood of a double eagle. Par five holes with a direct route to the green are more conducive to scoring a double eagle than holes with a green that is reachable in two shots for long hitters.
The Double Eagle Club: An Exclusive Group
The ‘Double Eagle Club’ is an informal and exclusive group of golfers who’ve scored a double eagle in tournament play. It’s a much smaller club than those who’ve made a hole-in-one.
This elite group includes American golfers like Jack Nicklaus, who recorded a double eagle in the 1967 U.S. Open, and Jeff Maggert, who scored one on a par 4 in the 2001 Open Championship.
Double Eagles: The Impact on a Player’s Scorecard
A double eagle can drastically alter the scorecard in a tournament. For instance, if a player is three strokes behind and scores a double eagle, they can take the lead in one stroke. This was the case for Jack Nicklaus at the 1967 U.S. Open and Jeff Maggert in the 2001 Open Championship.
The ‘Double Albatross’ and Other Golfing Marvels
While a double eagle, or albatross, is already a remarkable feat, there is also such a thing as a “double albatross” or “condor.” This refers to a score of four strokes under par, which is almost unheard of and has only been recorded a handful of times in golf history.
This can only occur theoretically on a par 6, where a golfer makes the hole in two strokes. While exceedingly rare, the condor is a testament to the unexpected marvels that can occur in golf.
The Significance of the Double Eagle in Professional Golf
A double eagle can turn the tide in a tournament in professional golf. For instance, a double eagle on the first hole can significantly boost a player’s score and overall confidence, potentially setting the pace for the rest of the tournament.
Moreover, a double eagle can dramatically alter the leaderboard and shift the momentum of a round in an instant.
The Thrill and Challenge of Double Eagles
Scoring a double eagle is one of the most thrilling achievements in golf. Few moments can match the rush of watching your second shot on a par 5-hole sail toward the green, then drop into the hole. As Padraig Harrington, who scored a double eagle at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in 2003, said, “It’s like you’ve won the lottery.”
The double eagle, an illustrious yet elusive term in the golf lexicon, represents one of the most outstanding achievements on the golf course. Its rarity, significance and the skill it requires make it one of the sport’s most thrilling prospects.
From the first double eagle by Craig Wood to the famous double eagle by Gene Sarazen, each instance adds to the allure and mystique of this extraordinary feat. As golfers worldwide strive for that elusive double eagle, the hunt for this rare bird promises to be an enduring part of golf’s rich tapestry.
- “The Origins of Golf Terms.” The Atlanta Constitution.
- PGA Tour Statistics. PGA Tour.
- “The History of Double Eagles at the Masters.” Augusta National.
- “The First Double Eagle in Golf History.” Craig Wood Historical Records.
- “TPC Sawgrass Hole in One Records.” TPC Sawgrass.
- Padraig Harrington interview. The Open Championship Archives.