What is an Eagle in Golf?

If you’re new to golf, you may be wondering:

What is an Eagle in Golf?

An eagle is a score of two under par on any given hole.

This golf term is quite simple to grasp once you have a few key pieces of information. First, you need to know what par is for the hole. As you may already know, each hole on a course is assigned a par. Par generally varies from 3 to 6, with the latter being uncommon.

An eagle is a score earned when you shoot 2 under par for any given hole.

In order to score an eagle on a par 3 hole, for example, you would need to make the shot in one stroke. Following the same logic, an eagle would be two strokes on a par 4 hole.

An eagle is a good indicator of a talented golfer. This shot is most often seen at the PGA Tour or LPGA Tour level. Sometimes even the average golfer happens to stumble onto some luck to balance out a double bogey.

All this to say, an eagle is a coveted, but uncommon golf score.

So to review: What is an eagle in golf?

A golf eagle is a shot that results in a 2 under par score. Although improbable, it is a worthy goal to shoot for. For reference purposes, here is how you would score an eagle at your local golf course:

  • Shoot a hole in one on a par 3 hole
  • Complete a par 4 hole in 2 strokes
  • Complete a par 5 hole in 3 strokes
  • Complete a par 6 hole in 4 strokes

If you like math, or even if you don’t, here is the simplest formula ever:

  • Par for the hole – 2 = The score you need to shoot an eagle

This formula will help you determine what an eagle is for any hole.

Hitting an eagle during a round of golf will considerably lower your score. It could mean the difference in losing the game or becoming the golf tournament legend.

How often does an eagle occur?

As you might expect, an eagle shot in golf is not very common because it requires pinpoint accuracy and a deep understanding of how to play a golf course. It is more common in professional golf, but don’t let that reality discourage you.

Shoot for the stars, as they say.

Eagle shots are possible for golfers of all skill levels. If you’re good at shooting longer distances, you have a better chance of shooting an eagle on a single hole with a higher par, such as a short par 5. This scenario give you a chance to maximize your distance but also have some breathing room for a mistake on your second shot.

If you’re good with your short game, you have a better chance of shooting an eagle on a par 3 course. These shorter holes give you a chance at a hole-in-one, which also happens to be an eagle for a par 3.

Now that’s killing two birds with one stone…

Why is it called an eagle shot?

There is no official history of the term eagle, but there are stories about various golf scoring terms that may shed some light on this question. Here’s the best explanation we’ve come across.

Back in the day, golfers used the phrase “a bird of a shot” when players shot well on a particular hole. That morphed into the term birdie being a score of 1 under par.

Shooting a birdie is no small feat, especially when the bogey man is always lurking around the corner.

However, an eagle is even more rare than your average bird, so shooting 2 under par had to be signified by a rarer bird.

Make sense?

Again, nobody really knows for sure, but this is an explanation that makes sense. Until the United States Golf Association or a Scottish golf history expert steps in, we’re sticking with that theory.

Can an amateur golfer shoot an eagle?

Of course they can!

Eagles aren’t limited to Tiger Woods (or any professional golfer for that matter).

However, you’re going to need to hit your golf club well to make this dream a reality.

As we mentioned earlier, par 5s are the most common holes for an eagle shot.

Why is that, you ask? There are several explanations, but the key idea to remember is that a par 5 leaves a golfer with more room for error. If you make a mistake on one of your shots, it doesn’t immediately put a nail in the eagle scoring-coffin.

The approach looks something like this:

  • Hit a great tee shot (long drive)
  • Hit a great second shot and land on the green
  • Single putt like a boss
  • Give yourself an eagle
  • Start planning for a PGA Championship appearance (we’re joking on this last one)

Looking to increase your odds of an eagle?

Consider a rangefinder.

Since you don’t have a pro caddie giving you advice along the way, technology can help you make wise decisions. Let’s get technical for a moment…

The capacity of a laser rangefinder to accommodate for variations in gradient and modify the distance to the flag or object correspondingly is referred to as slope. When you strike uphill, your shot actually plays longer, and the slope distance reflects this. A golf ball hit downhill, on the other hand, will travel further.

Fortunately, the best waterproof golf laser rangefinders with slope allow users to swiftly and simply toggle the slope feature on and off depending on the round. Some even feature indicator lights on the device that alert your opponents that your laser unit is legal for competition play.

Add one of these great feats of engineering to your Christmas list so you can make educated decisions throughout your round.

What is a double eagle in golf?

A double eagle is a score of 3 under par on a golf hole. This is a distinctly American golf term.

In the rest of the world, a double eagle is referred to as an albatross.

Obviously, a double eagle (albatross) is even rarer than a single eagle. This score is only possible on a par 4, 5 or 6. To get a double eagle, you would need the following scores:

  • Shoot a hole in one on a par 4 hole
  • Complete a par 5 hole in 2 strokes
  • Complete a par 6 hole in 3 strokes

Here is the formula for calculating a double eagle:

  • Par for the hole – 3 = The score you need to shoot a double eagle

Your odds of joining the double eagle club are low, but we’re rooting for you!

Some Legendary Double Eagles from the PGA Tour Tournament Play

Need some inspiration? Start here.

Eagle and Golf Term Scoring Review

If you read this far, give yourself a pat on the back. You can now answer the question: What is an eagle in golf?

Class is almost finished, so let’s do a bit of review.

  • Birdie: 1 under par
  • Eagle: 2 under par
  • Double Eagle / Albatross: 3 under par

Achieving an eagle shot is something that every golfer should have on their bucket list. It’s a fantastic golf shot that can set the tone for your entire round.

Start by hitting more birdies, then move onto one of golf’s more legendary achievements.

Have you hit an eagle during your golf round? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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