In golf, nothing quite compares to the thrill of scoring an eagle – finishing a hole two strokes under par. Eagles demonstrate a remarkable combination of skill, power, and luck. While recreational golfers may only experience the joy of eagling a hole once in a great while, pros consistently pursue these elusive feats to go low and win tournaments. Eagles require precise shot-making and some fortune to achieve just the right bounces and breaks. On famous holes designed for eagles, we’ve seen the game’s greats like Tiger Woods pull off inspiring and clutch performances. For any player, scoring an eagle can instantly take a score from average to exceptional. In this guide, we’ll break down everything that goes into this rare golf achievement – from eagle scoring fundamentals to famous holes to their significance for amateurs and pros alike.

1. Definition of an eagle in golf

Definition of an eagle in golf

An eagle in golf refers to completing a hole two strokes under par. For example, scoring a 2 on a par 4 hole or a 3 on a par 5. It differs from a birdie, which is one stroke under par, and an albatross, which is three strokes under par. An eagle is an excellent score for a hole that requires both skill and some luck.

Scoring two strokes less than the par number on a hole is a remarkable achievement. Eagles demonstrate precise shot-making and the ability to avoid major mistakes. While eagles do require talent, there is also an element of good fortune involved with them. The right conditions, bounces, and card must come together to create an eagle opportunity.

2. How it differs from a birdie or albatross

How it differs from a birdie or albatross

An eagle stands distinctly from a birdie or an albatross in golf scoring. A birdie occurs when a player completes a hole in one stroke less than par. Birdies are far more common than eagles, especially among professionals and low handicappers. Scoring an eagle is considered more difficult and happens less frequently.

On the other end, an albatross is three strokes under par for a hole, which is extremely rare. Also called a double eagle, it requires holing out on a par 5 in just 2 shots or a hole-in-one on a par 4. Albatrosses are golf’s most infrequent and coveted feats. Eagles fall in between birdies and albatrosses in both prestige and frequency.

3. Scoring an Eagle

Scoring an Eagle

Getting the ball in the hole with 2 strokes under par

The most basic way to score an eagle is to get the ball in the hole with 2 strokes less than the par number. For example, on a par 4 hole, sinking the ball in 2 shots would be an eagle. On a par 5, getting the ball in the hole in 3 strokes would count as an eagle. Regardless of the par, finishing a hole with 2 shots under par earns an eagle.

Achieving a score of 2-under on a par 5 hole

Par 5 holes provide the most common opportunities to make eagles in golf. Reaching a par 5 in two shots and then holing the putt yields an eagle 3 on that hole. Longer hitters can sometimes drive the green on certain par 5s or reach them in two with a solid drive and fairway wood. But distance off the tee alone doesn’t guarantee an eagle. Precise long irons, hybrids, or fairway wood shots are required to set up putts for a possible eagle.

Or getting a hole-in-one on a par 4 hole

Scoring an eagle 2 on a par 4 hole is rarer than on a par 5, simply because it requires a hole-in-one. While some par 4s are driveable for certain players, getting the ball directly in the hole in one shot involves plenty of skill and luck. The ace earns a 2-under eagle on that par 4. Players with long and accurate drives have more chances to hole out their tee shots for eagles on suitable par 4s.

4. How Often Eagles Happen

How Often Eagles Happen

Eagles are less common than birdies

While recreational golfers may score a birdie or two in a typical round, eagles occur less frequently. Birdies only require one shot under par on a hole, whereas eagles need two strokes under par. The extra shot under par makes eagles rarer than birdies across all levels of golf. Even for pros, birdies are common while eagles are special events.

Require excellent shots and some luck

Eagles demand a combination of outstanding golf shots and good fortune. Having the length and accuracy to reach par 5s in two or drive par 4 greens helps create eagle chances. But those long shots must also find the proper bounces and breaks around the green. A perfectly struck shot could hit a bad lie or catch the wrong edge of a green. Some randomness and luck align with skill to complete eagles.

Percentage of golf rounds with an eagle

By the numbers, eagles occur in a low percentage of golf rounds. A typical 15-20 handicapper might make an eagle once every 80-100 rounds. Better amateurs around a 5 handicap could eagle once per 40-60 rounds. For pros, eagles happen about once per 15-20 competitive rounds. While these are averages, it illustrates the infrequency of eagles compared to birdies for most players.

5. Famous Eagle Holes

Famous Eagle Holes

Well-known par 5 holes where eagles are attainable

Certain par 5 holes on famous golf courses have reputations for yielding eagles. On Augusta National’s par-5 13th, many players can reach the green in two shots to set up eagle putts. The 18th at Pebble Beach is another iconic par 5 where long hitters can have eagle chances after precise second shots. The 16th at TPC Scottsdale and the 2nd hole at Bethpage Black are also famous par 5s where skilled players regularly threaten eagle.

The par 4s where aces are possible

While more rare, select par 4 holes allow golfers to aim for eagle aces. Augusta’s driveable par-4 4th hole has seen some memorable hole-in-ones, as has the 323-yard 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The 10th hole at Riviera Country Club has surrendered its share of eagle aces over the years as well. Holes like these par 4s reward extremely accurate tee shots and invite players to aim directly at the flag.

Players who have scored memorable eagles on these holes

Specific players have made famous eagles on certain holes. Tiger Woods owns some of the most iconic eagles ever at Augusta’s 15th and Pebble’s 18th. Other big names like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Spieth have carded memorable eagles at places like Sawgrass’ 17th and Riviera’s 10th. Beyond the pros, top amateur golfers also pursue rare eagles on iconic holes as chances to achieve a career highlight.

6. Significance of an Eagle

Significance of an Eagle

An exciting achievement for recreational golfers

For the everyday golfer, making an eagle is a special feat worthy of celebration. More common birdies are always welcome, but eagles give recreational players a true thrill and sense of accomplishment. Scoring two under par on a single hole happens infrequently enough to be remembered for years. Eagles give club golfers personal highlights to share with friends and stories that enhance the fun of the game.

Top pros pursue eagles to go low and win tournaments

While recreational players cherish rare eagles, professionals chase them aggressively. For elite golfers trying to reach record scores, eagles provide a quick path to getting deep under par. Multiple eagles during a round can be the difference between winning and losing for pros. Players like Tiger, Phil, and Rory have used strategic eagle attempts to separate from the field. Eagles are key in pro golf for going especially low.

Getting an eagle can turn around your score for a hole

For any level of golfer, an eagle can instantly take a score from mediocre to excellent on a hole. A tee shot into trouble or approach that misses the green can still be saved with an eagle. Making a 3 on a par 5 or 2 on a par 4 erases mishits, penalties, or errant shots earlier in the hole. Eagles have the power to transform high scores into something to celebrate. They demonstrate how rapidly fortunes can change over a single hole in golf.

Frequently Asked Questions about Eagle in Golf

Q: What exactly is an eagle in golf?

A: An eagle in golf is when a player completes a hole two strokes under par. For example, scoring a 3 on a par 5 hole or a 2 on a par 4 hole. It demonstrates excellent shot-making to finish a hole with two shots less than the par number.

Q: How is an eagle different from a birdie or albatross in golf?

A: A birdie is one shot under par, while an eagle is two strokes under par. Birdies are more common than eagles. An albatross, also called a double eagle, is three shots under par for a hole, which is extremely rare. So an eagle stands between a birdie and albatross in prestige and frequency.

Q: What kind of scores make for an eagle?

A: Typical eagle scores are:

  • 3 on a par 5 hole
  • 2 on a par 4 hole
  • 4 on a par 6 hole
  • 1 on a par 3 hole (very rare hole-in-one)
    Any score that is 2 strokes under the par number qualifies as an eagle.

Q: How often do golfers make eagles compared to birdies?

A: Eagles occur much less frequently than birdies. A typical recreational golfer might make an eagle once every 80-100 rounds, versus birdies multiple times each round. Even pros only average about 1 eagle every 15-20 competitive rounds, while they tally numerous birdies each tournament.

Q: What are some famous golf holes known for yielding eagles?

A: Iconic par 5s like Augusta’s 13th, Pebble Beach’s 18th, and Bethpage’s 2nd produce some famous eagles. Short par 4s like Augusta’s 4th, TPC Sawgrass’ 17th, and Riviera’s 10th have also given up memorable eagle aces.

Q: Why are eagles significant achievements in golf?

A: For amateurs, eagles are special feats providing thrills and accomplishments to savor. For professionals, eagles are important to reach very low scores to win events and set records. Eagles can also instantly turn around a mediocre score into something excellent on any given hole.

Final Thoughts

Eagles occupy a special place in golf that combines skill, power, and luck. For pros, they are crucial achievements in record-setting rounds and major victories. Amateurs may only experience one or two in an entire season, making each eagle memorable. While birdies happen more regularly, eagles require precise execution and the right bounces. Famous par 5s and drivable par 4s have delivered some of golf’s most iconic eagles. Yet on any hole with the right strategy and fortune, a player can turn a score around from disaster to thrill with an eagle. Their rarity makes them no less pursuable. Understanding how to create and seize eagle opportunities is key to improving for all golfers. Whether once in a lifetime or once a tournament, golfers will forever cherish the hard-earned value of the elusive eagle.

Enjoyed this guide of what is an eagle in golf? Then be sure to check out our other golf guides.