Golf scoring terms seem confusing at times. One of the words that we very rarely hear is “albatross.” The term albatross is not new; it’s just such a rare shot that you probably never saw a player pull one off on the golf course.

Let’s take a look at what an albatross is, your chances of making one, and whether or not you need to be a professional golfer to even keep this word in your vocabulary.

What is an albatross in golf?

When a golfer gets a score of three under par on a single hole, the shot is called an albatross. Another term to describe this is a double eagle. An albatross is a score of 2 on a par 5 or a hole-in-one on a par 4.

The reason we don’t hear the term albatross referred to often in golf is that it is incredibly rare.

image of what is an albatross in golf - AEC Info

Most golf holes are set up with a standard green in regulation. For a par 5, you get on the green in 3; for par 4, it normally takes two shots to get on the green. When you make an albatross, you have to do better than a green in regulation, which is difficult to accomplish.

Do PGA professionals make albatrosses?

Even PGA Professionals struggle to make an albatross on a consistent basis. Most go their entire lives and never have one. The best chance for an albatross is on a par-5 hole. In January of 2023, Xander Schauffele recorded his first albatross by hitting his second shot into the hole on a par 5.

The second shot was more than 250 yards from the pin, and he happened to run the golf ball right into the cup.

This albatross was the first recorded for 2023 and the 183rd since 1983, when these things were tracked by the PGA Tour a little more closely.

Amateur golfers may feel like making an eagle is rare; try making a double eagle!

How rare is an albatross in golf?

The odds of an albatross in golf are estimated as 6 million to 1. However, data on making an albatross is a bit limited because of how rare this is. Golf experts will tell you that based on your abilities and scores in golf, the chances of an albatross could be higher or lower.

In other words, if you are a golfer with higher swing speeds and lots of distance, getting the ball close to the hole is easier in fewer strokes.

In addition, the golf course you play will determine your ability to make an albatross in golf.

For instance, many golf courses do not have a drivable par 4; therefore, the chance of an albatross there would be incredibly rare.

Your odds of being killed by a shark are roughly 1 in 3.7 million, so you are nearly twice as likely to get eaten by a shark than you are to actually making an albatross.  Kind of disturbing!!!

What is better, an eagle or an albatross, in golf?

An albatross is better than an eagle. The albatross counts as a double eagle. However, in sticking with the bird theme and golf terminology, most golfers would be happy if one of their rounds of golf had either of these scores. 

When you think about an albatross and the impact that a 3 under-par score has on your game, the rest of the round should be quite good as well.

Golf terms for dummies

Is albatross better than hole-in-one?

An albatross is better than a hole in one on a par 3, and it will likely take a bit of luck to make sure it happens. Golfers cannot make an albatross on a par 3 because the score of 3 under par would not be possible.

The odds of making an albatross are much more difficult than making a hole-in-one.

Don’t forget, if you make your first Ace this season…..the hole in one tradition is to buy drinks!!

Notable albatrosses recorded by PGA Tour players

Making an albatross during a PGA Tour event is quite an accomplishment. It’s even more notable to do it during a major tournament. In fact, if you want to make major championship history in golf, this would be a great way to do it. Here are a few of the most notable albatrosses ever recorded on the PGA Tour:

  • Joey Sindelar: PGA Championship at Medinah
  • Nick Watney: US Open Olympic Club
  • Shaun Micheel: US Open Pebble Beach
  • Paul Lawrie: The Open Championship Turnberry
  • Louis Oosthuizen: Masters Tournament Augusta National
  • Darrell Kestner: PGA Championship Inverness Club

What is a condor in golf terms?

A condor is yet another bird used to describe a golf score. The condor is a hole in one on a par 5 or four under par for one hole. The average golfer and most professional golfers will never see this happen. Even golfers as great as Jack Nicklaus have never had a condor in their life.

The condor is not a score you can make on a par 4 or a par 3, as you won’t be able to shoot 4 under. The only real chance of seeing a condor is a golf club with very short yardages and a player with an incredible distance on their tee shot.

In 2002 a man name Mike Crean accomplished this incredible achievement in golf by making a hole in one on a 571-yard par 5, and he did it without cutting over a dog leg. Any golf enthusiast likely has a few more questions about how this was accomplished!

Update your golf vocabulary with all the latest Golf slang here.

Final Thoughts

An albatross is an impressive feat in golf. To score 3 under par on one hole truly means that your golf shot was perfect. For these rare instances in the golf world, sometimes it’s not about being a Scratch golfer but more about being a lucky golfer.

Favorable bounces, an extra boost of distance from Golfing in the wind, and maybe even a bit of roll from a cart path could be your formula for your first albatross.