Scoring an Albatross in Golf: The Rare Feat Only Elite Players Achieve

albatross golf

Scoring an albatross in golf is one of the most impressive and rarest accomplishments in the sport. But what exactly is an albatross, and what does it take to achieve this coveted 3-under par feat on a single hole? Read on to learn everything you need to know about Albatross golf.

You’re deep in the zone, crushing your drive straight down the middle of the narrow 568-yard par 5. Your approach shot with a hybrid club lands softly just feet from the pin, and you sink the eagle putt for a smooth 2 strokes on the hole.

But you’re still not satisfied – you know this hole’s full potential. You step up to the next long par 5, repeat the perfect drive and dialed-in approach, and this time drain a monster 50-foot putt for an albatross – scoring 3 under par on one hole!

Scoring an albatross in golf is extremely rare and difficult, but hearing the cheers erupt from the crowd for this impressive achievement makes the years of practice worthwhile. If you’ve ever dreamed of pulling off your own albatross, keep reading to understand exactly what it is and the keys to making it happen.

What is an Albatross Golf?

In golf scoring, an albatross (also called a double eagle) is when a player holes out a shot in 3 strokes under par on a single hole. This is typically achieved by scoring 2 strokes on a par 5, but can also occur with a hole-in-one on a par 4 hole. Here is how albatrosses compare to other types of golf scores:

  • Hole-in-One: 1 stroke on a par 3 hole
  • Albatross: 3 under par (2 strokes on par 5, hole-in-one on par 4)
  • Eagle: 2 under par (2 strokes on a par 4, 3 on a par 5)
  • Birdie: 1 under par
  • Par: Completing hole in designated number of strokes
  • Bogey: 1 over par

So while a hole-in-one and an Albatross golf on a par 4 are essentially the same feat, albatross is usually associated with the rarest score of 2 shots on a par 5. Scoring an albatross requires not one but two perfectly executed shots – a mighty drive and accurate approach right by the hole. No wonder albatrosses are so uncommon!

To illustrate just how rare they are, the estimated odds of an amateur golfer shooting an albatross are about 1 in 6 million. For context, you are:

  • 5 times more likely to get struck by lightning in your lifetime
  • 340 times more likely to get a hole-in-one
  • 37,500 times more likely to shoot an eagle

This makes an Albatross golf an incredibly elusive accomplishment. But as we’ll cover, some talented golf professionals with strong shot making skills have beaten the odds and pulled off this near-impossible feat.

![Albatross odds infographic][]

An albatross in golf is extremely rare – the rarest score behind a hole-in-one. This infographic helps put the miniscule odds in perspective.

Albatross Statistics and Probability

The precise probability of an albatross depends on many factors – hole length, course conditions, individual skill level, and sheer luck. But most industry estimates put the odds somewhere between 3 to 6 million to 1 against scoring an albatross, even for pro golfers. Here are some key statistics:

  • 6 million to 1: The commonly cited baseline odds of an albatross, considered accurate for both pros and amateurs.
  • 82% lower odds: The approximate odds for pros versus amateurs. A pro’s chance is still only about 1 in 333,333.
  • 771 albatrosses: Reported total across all professional golf tours since 1970, averaging about 16 per year.
  • 3 albatrosses: Most ever scored in one year on the PGA tour (2001).
  • 0 albatrosses: Recorded some years on pro tours, showing how fickle they are.

While an albatross will always require lots of talent and luck, certain tips can shift the odds ever so slightly in your favor:

  • Perfect conditions: Pick a dry, windless day to reduce variables.
  • Par 5s over 550 yards: Longer holes provide more margin for the 2-shot sequence.
  • Lightning fast greens: Allows even slightly off shots to funnel in.
  • Enhanced equipment: New driver and ball technology adds yards.

Even with these optimizations, albatrosses remain a 1 in a million longshot. That’s what makes them such hallowed achievements when they do happen!

golf club on golf course

The History Behind the Golf Term Albatross

So where did the golf term “albatross” originate from? The metaphor comparing this rare feat to the gigantic ocean bird likely first appeared in print in the early 20th century.

One of the earliest known uses comes from Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame) in his 1899 short story “The Parson of Jackman’s Gulch:”

“You see that green-keeping ain’t any slouch of a job… . This
morning, for instance, I had to knock the albatross off the flagstick on the 9th.

By the 1920s and 30s, albatross became more widely adopted in golf lingo to signify the double eagle 2-on-a-par-5 achievement.

The reasoning behind likening it to the wandering albatross bird connects to its awe-inspiring long distance flight across the ocean skies:

  • Albatrosses have been recorded circling the entire globe without stopping.
  • Their immense 7 foot plus wingspans allow sailing on air currents for hundreds of miles.
  • Matching the bird’s mighty flying ability compares to the perfect long-range shotmaking necessary for an albatross in golf.

So next time you hear an albatross was scored, picture one of these majestic seabirds soaring gracefully through the air on its marathon voyages. The rarity and beauty of that sight mirrors the magic in golf of seeing a player absolutely crush a par 5 hole in just 2 strokes!

Famous Albatross Moments Throughout Golf History

Despite the impossible odds, there have been some legendary albatrosses scored over the years by talented professional golfers on the biggest stages:

Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard Round the World”

The most famous albatross in golf history came at the 1935 Augusta Masters tournament by Hall of Famer Gene Sarazen. On the par-5 15th hole, he holed out his 4-wood second shot from 235 yards, incredibly tying the course record.

Sarazen called it the “shot heard round the world,” and his 2 on the hole catalyzed his come-from-behind victory. Golf historians mark it as one of the watershed moments that put The Masters tournament on the map as a major.

“I just gripped my 4-wood, took a mighty lash at the ball, and started running toward the green. I couldn’t see the ball in flight, but I strained my ears listening for a strike. I heard a sound like a rifle report and watched the ball soar onto the green and into the cup.” – Gene Sarazen

Nicholas Thompson’s Wild Double Albatross Round

While most golfers will never register a single albatross in competition, unheralded pro Nicholas Thompson pulled off an unfathomable two in the same round at the 2013 Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Playing both the par-5 6th and 18th holes in 2 blows, his round also included 2 bogeys, an eagle, and 5 birdies for a total of 12 under par over 18 holes!

Thompson humbly commented afterwards: “It was a pretty magical, fairy tale day, to say the least.” His phrase “double albatross” also entered the golf lexicon to describe this once-in-a-lifetime feat.

Albatross Caught-on-Camera Reactions

Thanks to increased video coverage on tour and everyday golfers’ cell phones, we now get to see incredible albatross reactions as they happen. From Tiger fist pumps to amateur strangers hugging it out, the elation of an albatross in real time is priceless.[Some best-of compilation video of tour/amateur albatross reactions]

These albatrosses represent just a sampling of the rarest achievements in golf. While the specifics of each may differ, they all share the absolutely perfect execution under pressure that separates pros from amateurs.

But as we’ll discuss next, even average golfers have a nearly impossible dream of one day joining the albatross club. The key is always striving for excellence in your shotmaking skills.

Principles for an Albatross: Drive For Show, Approach For Dough

Realistically, most golfers will never register an albatross due to the tremendous skill and luck required. But it’s still enjoyable to understand the keys to optimizing your chances:

Perfect Drive

  • Power: Achieve maximum distance off the tee within control.
  • Alignment: Visualize your target line before swinging.
  • Impact: Strike the ball cleanly out of the center of the clubface.
  • Draw/Fade: Shape from left to right for added yards.

Ideal Approach

  • Distance: Flawlessly judge required distance and club selection.
  • Trajectory: Land ball softly on green with enough spin to stop near hole.
  • Visualization: See the shot shape and outcome before hitting.
  • Release: Time hips and hands uncoiling for solid impact.

While mere mortals can only aspire to albatrosses, refining these areas makes eagles and birdies far more attainable. Enjoy the journey!

Dream Big: Albatrosses Happen for Amateurs Too

Beyond the famous pros, even some passionate amateur golfers have achieved the 1 in a million albatross off the public tee:

  • Mike Crean, 2013: Holed out a 5-iron from 217 yards on a par 5. He did a dance called the “albatross shuffle.”
  • Bill Griffiths, 2012: Sunk a 4-iron approach on a 530 yard par 5. Made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that night.
  • Jim Furyk lookalike, 2008: Doppelganger in Ohio hit a double eagle and celebrated just like pro golfer Jim Furyk.

So keep visualizing that perfect shot sequence and maybe, just maybe, you’ll spark a celebration to rival those albatross reactions one day soon. It’s not impossible with the right blend of skill, conditions, and fortune.

Final Verdict: The Rarest Shots Exemplify Golf’s Beauty

An albatross in golf represents one of the pinnacles of achievement in the sport. Like a rare bird migrating across oceans, its near-impossibility yet tantalizing potential captures the essence of golf’s allure.

While the odds seem hopelessly stacked against it, the quest to accomplish an albatross gives all golfers an aspirational benchmark to chase. With dedication to refining your shotmaking and course strategy skills, you inch ever closer toward that dream 2 on a par 5.

And even if an albatross remains elusive, the journey toward excellence rewards golfers with improved consistency, lower scores, and more enjoyment. By keeping your expectations balanced and finding pleasure in competing against yourself, your best golf is always within reach.

So channel your inner Sarazen and Thompson, step up to that risky par 5, and take dead aim at your white whale. An albatross awaits for those bold enough to dream big.

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