What is an eagle in golf – Golf’s Rarest Shot Explained

what is an eagle in golf

Scoring an eagle in golf is one of the most thrilling achievements for any player. But what exactly does it mean to make an eagle, and how does it compare to other scores in golf?

This article will explain everything you need to know about the what is an eagle in golf – from its definition and origin to tips for scoring one yourself.

What is an Eagle in Golf? Definition & Meaning

An eagle in golf is when a player scores 2 under par on a single hole. For example, if the par for a hole is 4 and you manage to sink the ball in 2 strokes, you will have scored an eagle. Along with a hole-in-one, it is the rarest and most prized score in golf.

So if the par for a hole is:

  • Par 4 – An eagle is completing the hole in 2 shots
  • Par 5 – An eagle is 3 shots
  • Par 6 – An eagle is 4 shots

Scoring an eagle requires excellent accuracy, distance, and skill – it certainly won’t happen by accident!

How “Eagle” Got Its Name – Origins & Relation to Birdie

The term eagle was first coined in the 1800s to describe a score that was better than a birdie. Back then, a birdie meant scoring 1 under par, while an eagle was 2 under.

The naming originates from the metaphor comparing scores to different birds. An eagle represented the rare and impressive feat of scoring 2 under par, just as eagles are more powerful and hard to spot than smaller birds.

Over time, the meaning of birdie evolved to its current definition of 1 under par. But eagle has stuck around as the next best score beyond a birdie.

Some key golf terms to know:

  • Birdie – 1 under par
  • Eagle – 2 under par
  • Double Eagle – 3 under par (also called an albatross)
  • Hole in One – Completing a hole in 1 stroke

So if you ever manage to score 3 under par on a hole, congratulations – you’ve hit the ultra-rare albatross!

what is an eagle in golf

Eagle Scoring Stats – Frequency and Odds of Making One

Eagles are extremely rare in golf. The odds of the average golfer making an eagle are about 1 in 3,000 on any given hole.

Even for pros, only around 3% of all holes played result in eagles. That’s why sinking one brings such excitement and celebration.

The holes with the best chance of yielding an eagle are par 5s, since reaching the green in 2 shots is more feasible with a long drive. But scoring an eagle on a par 4 takes world-class skill.

The players with consistently great eagle rates include Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. But any player from amateur to pro should feel proud chalking up an eagle – it’s a special achievement.

How to Score an Eagle – Tips & Strategy on Drives and Precision

To set yourself up for a possible eagle, you’ll need to master two things:

  1. Long Drives – Hitting a huge drive that travels over 300 yards significantly increases your eagle odds. It leaves you with a short iron or wedge into the green even on long par 4s and 5s.
  2. Pinpoint Accuracy – Your approach and short game around the green must be crisp and precise to get the ball close to the pin in 2 shots (or 1 on a par 3).

Follow these tips to hone your eagle scoring strategy:

  • Analyze each hole and identify where you can aim for max distance off the tee. Cut corners aggressively.
  • Practice your power swing to consistently gain 20+ extra yards. Transfer weight powerfully through the shot.
  • On approach shots, visualize your path into the flagstick. Pick specific targets to lead you there.
  • Spend time dialing in your 60, 80 and 100 yard wedge shots until you can reliably get within 10 feet.
  • Make sure putting and chipping skills are also sharp to capitalize once in eagle range.

With the right course management and consistent execution, those elusive eagles will start appearing on your scorecard.

Famous Eagle Shots – Iconic Moments in Golf History

Here are some legendary eagle shots that have gone down in golf lore:

  • Tiger’s Chip-In at the 16th Hole of the 2005 Masters – This incredible shot helped Tiger secure another green jacket. The ball teetered on the edge before dropping in for eagle.
  • Rory’s Perfect Long Iron at the 2014 Wells Fargo – Rory hit a massive 290 yard 2 iron that curved onto the green and rolled up for a kick-in eagle 3 on a par 5.
  • Zach Johnson’s Albatross at the 2015 Open – Zach holed out from 236 yards on the par-5 9th, leaping into the lead on Friday. Fans erupted at this rare double eagle.
  • Michelle Wie’s Eagle to Win the 2014 US Open – Needing an eagle on the final hole to tie, Michelle nailed a heroic approach and sunk the 15 foot putt to triumph.

Eagle vs. Other Scores – Comparison to Birdie, Albatross, Condor

Let’s compare how an eagle stacks up against other key golf scores:

  • Birdie – 1 under par. Eagles are more rare and impressive than birdies.
  • Double Eagle – Also known as an albatross, this is 3 under par in one hole – extremely rare!
  • Hole in One – The only score better than an eagle. Going 1 under par on a par 3 hole.
  • Condor – 4 under par on one hole. Essentially impossible in real golf – only achieved a few times ever!
  • Par – Completing a hole in the designated number of strokes.
  • Bogey – 1 over par. Worse than par but better than a double bogey.

So while a birdie is a nice score, an eagle represents a far more significant and remarkable achievement. Bagging one should be remembered and savored!

Improving Your Eagle Game – Drills and Training to Add Distance

Wish you could score eagles more consistently? Here are some drills and training tips to improve your power and precision for eagle opportunities:

  • Lag Putting – Become adept at reliably two-putting from 40+ feet. This skill translates to stiff approaches that set up eagle putts.
  • Troubleshot Recovery – Get creative in practicing shots from the rough and awkward lies. Saving par from trouble keeps holes eagle-able.
  • Wedge Distance Control – Dial in your wedge yardages and flights to stick approaches close. Having every 10-yard increment from 50 yards in feels automatic.
  • Flexibility Training – Limber up with yoga or resistance bands to gain a fuller turn and more powerful transfer through your shots.
  • Grip and Swing Evaluation – Consult a coach to optimize your grip, mechanics, and golf-specific strength for max distance. Small tweaks can pay off huge.

With smart practice across all facets of your game, those seemingly impossible eagles will start appearing on the card. Stay determined!

Final Takeaways – Appreciating Golf’s Rarest Shot

Scoring an eagle should always be applauded and recognized as a special achievement in golf. To recap the key lessons on mastering this rare shot:

  • Understand what an eagle is – 2 under par on any hole.
  • Eagle odds are about 1 in 3000! Two great shots in a row are required.
  • Go for max distance on drives and pinpoint accuracy on approaches.
  • The pros hit eagles just 3% of the time. Stay patient and keep trying!
  • Go through your eagle mental checklist on every tee shot – you never know when it will come together.
  • Display your eagles proudly! Other than a hole-in-one, it’s golf’s peak accomplishment.

The next time you hear an “Eagle!” shout across the course, take a moment to soak it in. With the right preparation and mindset, you can be the one scoring these rare gems.

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