The Albatross in Golf: Rarity & Complete Guide

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Albatross is one of the trickiest shots in golf. It’s when you score a 2 on a par 5 or make three strokes under par on a single hole.  Only a handful of professional golfers could achieve it, making the odds of scoring an albatross exceptionally rare for the average golfer! 

There are different ways to make an Albatross in the golf game. For an average golfer, it might take years of practice and a sheer amount of luck. But, don’t worry! 

Today we’ll answer the Internet’s most asked questions about Albatross, including, “What is an Albatross in golf?” and “how do I score it?”

What Is an Albatross in Golf?

Albatross is an extremely rare golf shot that entails scoring a 2 on a par-5 hole or three under par on a particular golf hole. To make an Albatross, you need to take two perfect shots under par, the latter taking the ball into the hole. 

The first shot sets the premise for the second shot or is a hole-in-one if you are on a par 4. Because the Albatross is only possible on a par 5 or a short par 4, scoring it becomes even more challenging.

Is it possible to score an Albatross anywhere other than par 5? Technically, yes! If you can ace a par 4, you will have made an Albatross like Andrew Magee and you may not know but this feat is the only ace on a par 4 in the entire PGA Tour history!

You have a fair chance of making a one-under-par birdie on any course. But achieving an Albatross is one of the most elusive golf plays possible when it comes to golf scoring and something that you will rarely see when reading a golf scorecard. 

Why Is It Called an Albatross?

Albatross is a scoring term in the game of golf. It’s called an Albatross because the shot is as rare as the seabird itself. But why Albatross when three-under-par could literally be anything? To understand the clearly visible aviary theme in golfing, we have to take a look at the golf history. 

Back in the day, the term “bird” was the colloquialism of something “brilliant” or “cool.” It is believed that Birdie made its way to the golfing lexicon, followed by Eagle, Albatross, and Ostrich.

An eagle in golf is a play on the scoring term Birdie, denoting two under par on a hole. Then there’s Double Eagle, which is three under par on a hole in a golfing tournament. As you might have guessed, Double is another name for Albatross. 

It became popular within golf terminology in America after golfing legend Gene Sarazen secured an Albatross for the first time in the 1935 Masters.

How to Score an Albatross in Golf?

There are no hard and fast rules to bag this golden achievement because the ones who had made an Albatross did not live to make another. Except for Jeff Maggert, the only golfer to have scored an Albatross twice in major championships (PGA Tour)!

He made his first Albatross at the Masters in 1994 (Golf Compendium), becoming the third professional golfer after Gene Sarazen and Bruce Devlin to have the honor. Jeff Maggert scored his second Albatross, seven years later, at the British Open.

You can make an Albatross in two ways, the first being a hole-in-one on a par 4, and the second being a perfect two on a par 5. The latter is the most common type that has been seen in all four major championships in the world of golf. 

When it comes to making an albatross in golf as an amateur. You are much more likely to score one if you are a scratch golfer. For more information on this type of golfer, you can view our what is a scratch golfer guide here.

Professional Golfers Who Scored an Albatross 

Albatrosses have been made a total of 18 times in Major golfing events. Shaun Micheel gave the world a spectacular scene in the final round of the US Open at the Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Five years later, golf lovers saw two Albatrosses being hit in the same PGA tournament at Bay Hill Club. The credit goes to Daniel Berger for posting his first Albatross on the 6th hole in round 3 and Zack Johnson for following up with another Albatross on the 16th hole in round four! 

The last Albatross in a PGA Tour was recorded in 2023. With two more Albatrosses scored in the same year, it’s a far from average score in golf and shouldn’t be expected by the everyday golfer.

The below video showcases some of the very best Albatrosses:

Speaking of notable Albatrosses, Nicholas Thompson outdid himself by scoring an Albatross in the 11th hole and hitting a hole-in-one, two holes later.

In the entire PGA Tour history, only Thompson holds the record of making an Albatross and an ace in the same round (GolfWeek).  

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to score better than an Albatross?

It’s possible to score better than an Albatross as long as you count a bird or a hole-in-one as the better term. You’re not allowed errant shots when it comes to a hole-in-one. 
You have to hit the ball at the green directly without having a second shot at your disposal. When playing a single hole, three shots under par will be recorded as an Albatross.

Is an Albatross and Double Eagle the same thing? 

Yes, Albatross and Double Eagle are terms that denote the same rare feat in golf. To make your play qualify as Albatross, you have to score on a hole, equaling three strokes under par. 
In other words, it can be achieved by hitting a two on par 5 or making a hole-in-one (ace) on a par 4.

How rare is a golf Albatross?

An Albatross is exceedingly rare in the game of golf. It’s rarer than a hole-in-one, or any scoring term for that matter. According to the National Hole-in-One Association, the odds of making a hole-in-one in golf are 12,000 to 1. Whereas it’s expected that the odds of making an Albatross are six million to one. 

Does an Albatross have another name?

Yes, the golfing term Albatross also goes by Double Eagle in America. According to some scholars, the aviary-themed golfing terms originated in an Atlantic City course back in 1903. As for Albatross, it refers to one of the largest and rarest seabirds. The same goes for its namesake in golfing for its admirable status. 

Rounding up

Hitting an albatross may seem difficult and is an extremely rare feat and golf term, even for professionals but that doesn’t mean that other golf scores such as an eagle, birdie or a par aren’t a good score too.

In fact they are much more common and likely to help you to improve your game. At the amateur level scoring a par on each hole would help you to become a scratch golfer which is something extremely rare in itself as most amateurs will score bogeys on a regular occurence.