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What Is the Meaning of Albatross in Golf?

by William McCoy

    In golf, an albatross is something that most golfers will never have the fortune to make. This scoring term, which represents three strokes under par on a single hole, is extremely difficult to achieve. Several professional golfers have scored an albatross in a tour event, but the list remains relatively short compared with the number of holes collectively played by all the golfers in PGA Tour and LPGA Tour history.

    Overview

    Scoring an albatross on a given hole requires that you are playing on a par-5 hole. If you were to hole out three shots below par on a par-4, this accomplishment would technically be called a hole-in-one rather than an albatross. On a par-5 hole, you would need to sink your second shot to achieve an albatross. This feat likely would require precision and luck with a second shot that most likely is 200 or more yards from the green.

    Notable Albatrosses

    PGA Tour legend Gene Sarazen was the first professional golfer to record an albatross in one of golf's four modern major events, and he did so when the stakes were high. Sarazen earned this rare score on the par-5 15th hole of the 1935 Masters, which forced a tie for the lead and a subsequent playoff that he won. Other pro golfers, including Jack Nicklaus, Shaun Micheel and Joey Sindelar, have scored albatrosses in their careers. A notable, recent albatross and belongs to Nicholas Thompson, who achieved the feat at the 2009 Fry.com Open. After making an albatross on the par-5 11th hole, he made a hole-in-one on the par-3 13th hole. The back-to-back albatross and hole-in-one is an extremely rare occurrence in the game.

    Odds

    The National Hole in One Association, which tracks holes-in-one and sets odds for the feat, states that an albatross is less likely than an elusive hole-in-one. The association sets a golfer's odds of making a hole-in-one at 12,700 to 1 or, for a professional, 3,700 to 1. The odds of achieving an albatross, meanwhile, are set at 6 million to 1.

    Considerations

    One of the factors that makes scoring an albatross even more difficult is that most golf courses only provide golfers with two to five opportunities to achieve the feat. Because it's only possible on a par-5 hole, this limits your chances of an albatross to the number of par-5 holes on the course. Although you have a chance to make a 1-under-par birdie or even a 2-under-par eagle on any hole on any given course, the albatross remains highly elusive.

    About the Author

    Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

    Photo Credits

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