What Does Eagle Mean In Golf?

Many people have heard the term “eagle” in golf, but not everyone knows what it means.

You might think that an eagle is an animal that golfers like to watch while playing the game, but nope that’s not it.

An eagle in golf is actually a score of 2-under par on any given hole. It’s hard to achieve and it’s certainly something to be proud of!

So don’t let anyone tell you that an eagle has anything to do with animals – it’s all about the score!

What Does Eagle Mean In Golf

The Origin Of The Term ‘Eagle’

The term ‘eagle’ is a golf term that refers to an exceptionally good score on a par-4 or par-5 hole. It means you have managed to shoot two strokes under par for that particular hole. If you get an ace on a par-3 hole that is also an eagle but most people call it a hole-in-one.

In the 19th century the term “bird” was used to describe something excellent. Such as “That was a bird of a shot”. This led to a score of one stroke under par being a “birdie”.

Obviously, a score of two under needed a more impressive phrase and an eagle is a pretty impressive bird. An even rarer bird, the albatross is the term for 3 under on a hole (in the US this is often called a double eagle). In the unlikely event, you hole out your tee shot on a par-5 you have just managed a condor!

How Rare Is An Eagle In Golf?

An eagle in golf is a really awesome thing! It’s when you manage to score two strokes below par on a hole. That means if the hole is a par 5, you would need to get the ball down in 3 strokes to score an eagle. It’s not easy to do, but it can be done with some practice, skill and a bit of luck.

Looking at recent PGA Tour statistics shows how rare eagles are. Don’t forget these are the best players in the world. With the most eagles in a season being around the 20-mark most years and the average holes played to get one being around 90. Jon Rahm is currently bucking that trend with 13 eagles so far (April 2023) and he’s getting one every 55 holes!

Interestingly Webb Simpson led the tour in 2017-18 with 18 eagles and he is definitely not renowned as a long hitter!

Par-5s are the happiest hunting grounds given many players can reach the green in two and will be putting for their eagle.

How Many Eagles Does An Average Golfer Get

Well, I’ve been playing for about 34 years and not managed too many down the years although I’m not a long hitter! I have managed to get a hole-in-one, hole out occasionally on a par-4 in two shots or drive the green on some and managed to get the golf ball in the hole in three shots on a few par-5s but I’m nowhere near the sort of numbers that tour pros achieve. I have probably averaged 100 rounds or so per year so that’s a lot of holes!

How likely are golfers to get an eagle. Depending on who you ask the probability of a handicap golfer varies wildly but asking a company that provides hole-in-one insurance is going to give you a better answer.

The odds for an ordinary golfer getting a score of one on a par-3 is about 12,500/1 which is about 5 times higher than a professional. Of course, the odds of someone eagling a par-4 or par-5 would be significantly lower, particularly for players who can hit the ball a long way.

The odds of an eagle are probably around 1000/1.

Duval eagles 18 for a 59!

Famous Eagles In Golf History

Even in professional golf eagles are still pretty rare and impressive feats. Here are some important ones over the past few years:

  • Padraig Harrington in 2008 at Royal Birkdale on the 17th on the way to securing the claret jug.
  • David Duval in the 1999 Bob Hope at the Arnold Palmer Private Course on the 18th for a 59!
  • Tiger Woods in the 2000 Sentry Tournament of Champions on the 18th to win.

Tips To Attempt And Make More Eagles

Here are 4 tips to help you have more chances and make more eagles.

  • Play golf courses with reachable par-5s and short par-4s. That’s definitely going to be the easiest way to make more eagles. 
  • Increase how far you can hit the ball. 
  • Get your distance control right.
  • Work on your green reading and putting.

Golf Scoring Terms

Some other golf scoring terms you really need to know include:

  • Bogey: One over par on a hole
  • Birdie: One under par on a hole
  • Albatross: Three under par on a hole or double-eagle in the USA
  • Snowman: Taking 8 strokes on a hole.

What Does Eagle Mean In Golf: Summary

In summary, an eagle is an exciting and rare accomplishment in golf. It requires skill and practice but it can be done with the right amount of effort.

Eagles are pretty rare in golf even at the highest level, but when they occur they can provide an unforgettable experience for any golfer. 

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