what is an eagle in golf

There are two different meanings for the term ‘Eagle.’ For most people, an Eagle is a ferocious prey bird. However, it carries another meaning for golfers or people who know golf. Have you ever wondered – what is an eagle in golf? Well, this article will tell you all you need to know about Eagles in golf.

‘Eagle’ does not represent a bird when the context is Golf. It is instead a golf score term that is used in exceptional situations. In short, it is when a golfer scores two strokes under par at the hole.

Scoring an eagle requires a high skill ceiling. Amateur golfers hardly get to score an eagle. Even professional golfers don’t get an eagle that often. On average, professional golfers get up to two eagles in a golf match of 18 rounds.

In this article, we will explore different golf scoring terms, including the eagle, and everything you need to know about this term.

Golf Overall Scoring Explained

For a better understanding of “what is an eagle in golf?” – a general discussion on the scoring methods and terms is essential.

In the case of any type of score, usually higher means better. However, that’s not the case when it comes to golf. The lower the score, the better it is. The score indicates the number of shots it took for the player to reach the hole. Usually, the numeric score is known as par.

Par Scores For Different Holes

There are specified par scores for different holes. Par indicates the number of shots a golfer requires to attain an even score. For example, a golfer needs to hit five shots from the tee box to the cup for a par 5 hole.

In the case of 18 round or 18 hole golf matches, the par score sits between 70 to 71. It has mostly par 4 holes. Apart from the par 4 holes, the other ones are par 5 and par 3 holes.

The overall score is based on the stroke a golfer takes, regardless of its over, under, or even the designated par score. In a par 72 course, if a golfer scores 63, he or she’s is nine under par.

On the other hand, if the golfer scores 85, they are twelve over par. Moreover, if the golfer scores 72 on a par 72 course, it is considered even.

As mentioned earlier, lower scores are better; staying under par means better than over par.

How To Score An Eagle?

scoring an eagle

Eagle is when a golfer scores 2 strokes under par at the hole. This can be in terms of different par holes. So what you need is to score 2 under par regardless of the hole. Considering that, you can score eagle in four ways. They are:

  • Scoring an eagle on a par 3 hole
  • Scoring an eagle on a par 4 hole
  • Scoring an eagle on a par 5 hole

Scoring An Eagle On A Par 3 Hole

If you manage to score 2 strokes under par at a par 3 hole, this means that you got the ball into the hole from the tee box with one shot. This scoring term for this is commonly known as ‘hole-in-one.’ However, as it is still 2 strokes under par, it is technically an eagle.

Scoring An Eagle On A Par 4 Hole

Scoring 2 under par or getting the ball into a par 4 hole from the tee box with two strokes is called scoring an eagle on a par 4. The possibility of pro golfers scoring an Eagle on a par 4 may be below 1%.

Scoring An Eagle On A Par 5 Hole

This is where most eagles are scored. Scoring an eagle on a par 5 hole means that you need to get the ball in the hole with three strokes.

As a golfer gets 3 shots to score an eagle in this case, it’s comparatively less difficult than a par 3 hole eagle and par 5 hole eagle.

Why Is It Called ‘Eagle’?

We have discussed the particulars of an Eagle in golf, including how to score an eagle. Let’s get to know why it is called an eagle.

The scoring term eagle in golf is followed by birdie, which is another scoring term. Birdie existed long before eagle. A birdie is when a golfer scores 1 stroke under par on a designated par hole.

For example, a golfer needs to get a ball in the hole with 4 strokes in a par 5 hole. In terms of scoring, a birdie is less significant than an eagle.

Significant golf scoring terms are termed as names of birds. There is also ‘double eagle’ or ‘albatross’ if a hole is completed 3 strokes under par.

How Rare Is An Eagle In Golf?

How Rare Is An Eagle In Golf

Eagle is quite rare for most golfers, including professionals. As it requires high skill, professional golfers are likely to bag more eagles than any amateur or ordinary golf player.

In many cases, you might even see good amateur golfers get more eagles than professional ones. This is because they do easy courses where the par 5 holes are significantly shorter, and the hole is easily reachable in two strokes.

Skills Play A Major Role

Players who stand in a lower skill ceiling than professionals can get a couple of eagles in this way. In a general sense, scoring eagles in this way is not easy. It is easier if compared with professional golf tournament courses.

If we talk about the chances of getting an eagle in professional golf tournaments, it’s pretty rare. On average, a skilled professional golfer could get away with one or two eagles in an 18 round course.

Short Par 5 Hole

The most eagles you or anyone would probably witness are a short par 5 hole. This means that the chances of getting an eagle are the highest on a par 5 hole, and it’s comparatively easier than par 4 or par 3 holes.

A golfer cannot take more than 3 strokes to reach the hole to get an eagle. It takes a longer hitter to get an eagle on par 3 if he is lucky enough to get short holes. Because many par 5 holes are too long to reach in two strokes, this opportunity might come once in 18 times, so the odds are high.

If we take a look at the PGA tour 2021 statistics, Cam Davis remained at the number 1 spot on the list for most eagles. He got 20 eagles out of 94 rounds, which means the chances were 21%.

Scoring an eagle is very difficult, even for professional golfers. The difficulty raises to the extreme when it comes to amateur golfers.

What If You Get An Eagle?

eagles in golf

Getting one or several eagles will affect the scorecard of a golfer positively. The more eagles you score, the lower your overall score will be. And it was said previously that lower scores mean better in golf. So, this means that scoring eagles will pave the way towards your victory.

Moreover, scoring eagles are something that even professional golfers struggle with. If you can score eagles pretty often, that would mean that you are a great golfer.

Is There Anything Better Than An Eagle?

It has been said that scoring an eagle is quite difficult, even for professional golfers. Moreover, scoring the eagles will help a golfer secure lower points and help them win the match. However, if you are wondering whether there is anything better or not, the answer is yes, and it is known as ‘Albatross.’

Even though an eagle is quite rare and difficult, ‘Albatross’ is rarer and more difficult. Opposed to 2 strokes under par at the hole for eagle, you need to hit 3 strokes under par at the hole to score an Albatross.

This means, even for a par 5 hole, you get only two shots in total to get the ball from the tee box to the hole.

Albatross has been scored only 18 times in major gold tournaments throughout professional golf tournament history. Three albatrosses out of these 18 have been scored in the PGA championship.

Other Scoring Terms In Golf

Apart from eagles, there are many other scoring terms that you should know about and understand properly.

Bogey

Every hole has a designated par score, and golfers don’t always necessarily score even and under par all the time because it’s more on the difficult side. In many situations, golfers may finish over par to finish a hole. Please note that Bogeys tend to increase the score as opposed to birdies or eagles.

When a golfer finishes a hole over 1 par, that is called a ‘Bogey.’ When a golfer takes two more shots than the par score resulting over par 2 score, that’s called a ‘double bogey.’

In case it takes 3 more shots than the par score for the golfer resulting over par 3 score, it may be called a ‘triple bogey.’ However, professional golfers barely take more than three shots over the par score. Any more than that would be called ‘Disaster’.

When a golfer scores a bogey around average, they will get a score of 90 on a -72 par course. This situation is called ‘Bogey golf,’ and the player is said to play ‘Bogey golf.’

Birdie

Scoring even par or under par is difficult for any golfer even if the hole is finished 1 under par. When a golfer scores 1 under par in any hole, that is called a ‘Birdie.’

For example, if it’s a par -5 hole, a golfer would require to finish the hole in 4 shots to achieve a birdie. Scoring a birdie is a significant achievement for any golfer, and it helps him secure a lower score and get in an advantageous position.

It is also worth mentioning that scoring birdies are easier compared to eagles because if a golfer misses the opportunity to score an eagle, they get an extra shot to score a birdie. So, you would probably see more birdies than eagles in general.

Hole-In-One

A hole-in-one is exciting for amateur golfers and probably one of their most significant accomplishments. This basically refers to reaching the hole in one attempt or shot. A hole-in-one is also referred to as an ace.

When a golfer takes a shot from the tee, and the ball ends up in the hole in only one shot, it is called a hole-in-one. It is extremely rare, and it is more of a luck thing rather than skill. It is possible only when the holes are short, or par -3 holes in most cases.

Number Of Strokes Required For Achieving The Scores

To understand scoring easier, let’s get to know about the number of strokes a golfer would require to achieve the scores mentioned earlier.

Number Of Strokes Required For Par -3 Hole

ScoreStrokes
ParThe hole needs to be finished in 3 strokes
BirdieThe hole needs to be finished in 2 strokes
EagleThe hole needs to be finished in 1 stroke (A hole-in-one). Double eagles are not possible.
BogeyThe hole needs to be finished in 4 strokes. 5 strokes for double bogey. 6 strokes for a triple bogey. 

Number Of Strokes Required For Par -4 Hole

ScoreStrokes
ParThe hole needs to be finished in 4 strokes
BirdieThe hole needs to be finished in 3 strokes
EagleThe hole needs to be finished in 2 strokes  1 stroke for double eagle (A hole in one)
BogeyThe hole needs to be finished in 5 strokes. 6 strokes for a double bogey. 7 strokes for a triple bogey. 

Number Of Strokes Required For Par -5 Hole

ScoreStrokes
ParThe hole needs to be finished in 5 strokes
BirdieThe hole needs to be finished in 4 strokes
EagleThe hole needs to be finished in 3 strokes  2 strokes for double eagle
BogeyThe hole needs to be finished in 6 strokes. 7 strokes for double bogey. 8 strokes for a triple bogey. 

Conclusion: What Is An Eagle In Golf?

Throughout this article, we have thoroughly explained the answer to the question, “What is an eagle in golf?” with a discussion of other scoring terms so that you don’t have any confusion. Hopefully, this article made you understand what an eagle is in golf with clarity.

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