Ask the average club golfer how many pars they’ve made in their golfing lives, and they tell you plenty; ask them how many birdies they’ve made, and they’ll tell you a few, but ask them how many eagles they’ve made and they will probably go deadly silent.
Even as a golfer who plays off a handicap of +1, I can tell you that although I’ve had my fair share of eagles, it’s nowhere near as many as you might think; Why? Eagles aren’t that easy to come by.
Simply put, an eagle in golf refers to a score that is two-under the par of the hole. For example, if you score three on a par 5 then you can say you “eagled the hole” or you “made eagle.” Eagles on other holes such as par 4s are incredibly rare, and on par 3s, well, we’ll get to that a bit later on.
PGA Tour professionals are always on the hunt for an eagle, and the fact they can bomb 300-yard drives off the tee, making an eagle is considerably easier for them compared to an average club-golfer. Aside from an eagle, you also have an “albatross,” which means you’ve made two on a par 5; these are as rare as hen’s teeth.
But we could go one step further, which is a “condor.” A condor is when you’ve made a hole in one on a par 5. Remarkably five condors have been recorded by professional golfers. Most of them occurred on par 5s that dog legged, allowing them to “cut the corner,” letting God do the rest.
Where Did The Name Eagle Originate?
There is no distinct history when it comes to the origins of the term “eagle” being used in golf. However, the seminal golf book, Fifty Years Of American Golf, authored by H.B. Martin suggests that the term can be traced back to the early 1900s when golfers were referring to their good shots as “a bird of a shot.”
According to Martin, the term “bird of a shot” then evolved into “eagle,” which defined playing a hole one-under-par.
Some golf historians also point to the actual physical bird, the American Bald Eagle, which in the early 1900s was well on the way to becoming extinct. The theory here is that seeing the American Bald Eagle was as rare as making an eagle on the golf course; I must admit the romantic in me much prefers this telling of history.
What Is An Eagle On A Par 3?
Making an eagle on a par 3 means that you’ve got the ball in the hole in one shot, and you might be surprised to know that this happens much more frequently than you think.
The only difference here is that on a par 3, an eagle is called a “hole in one.” I have never scored a hole-in-one, but I have been on the tee when my best friend holed a 7-iron on the 175-yard par 3 at our home club.
The tee is elevated, and the green sits below; I remember tracking the ball, thinking this looks good, and then it was like slow-motion watching it sink to the bottom of the cup. Luckily for our playing group, it’s customary here in Japan for the golfer who scored a hole-in-one to pay for dinner and drinks after the round; needless to say, it was a late night.
What Is An Eagle On A Par 4?
Just as on par 3s, eagles on par 4s can and do happen but not as frequently as on par 5s. Holing out in two shots on a par 4 is still referred to as an eagle, unlike a par 3, which is called a hole in one. Now in this instance, I can say that I’ve scored four eagles on par 4s.
I bombed a massive 300-yard plus drive each time and was left with either a wedge or a chip shot from around the green for my second shot. Spanish great Sergio Garcia played nearly 800 par 4s in 2021 and made eagle six times for a percentage of 0.74%.
What Is An Eagle On A Par 5?
The vast majority of eagles are made on par 5s because you can bomb a drive and then “stripe” a long iron, giving you the chance to reach the green in two. So instead of having to chip in for an eagle, you have the opportunity to putt for an eagle, which is arguably much easier.
I can’t say how many eagles I’ve made in my golfing career because it’s more than I can remember, but as I said, eagles are much easier on par 5s, especially for low handicap and professional golfers who can hit the ball a long way.
Professional golfers are also outstanding putters, so it goes to reason that once on the green, they would make more than their fair share of eagles. In 2021, Justin Thomas was the leading eagle maker on the PGA Tour, averaging 5.40%.