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What Is the Meaning of an Eagle in Golf?

by Clint Hale

    Birdie. Par. Bogey. These are all vital terms to scoring in the game of golf. So is eagle. While rare, this score on a hole is quite the achievement, and does happen. The definition and understanding of the term eagle is simple enough to grasp.

    Definition

    Eagle, as defined in golf, is a score of two strokes under par on a hole. As a verb, to eagle is to shoot 2-under par on any given hole.

    Example

    Eagles don't happen often, but they tend to happen on par-5s. This is because, should a golfer hit two long shots to start the hole, that player then can be faced with a long putt or chip on his third shot. Should the golfer hole that shot, he records an eagle. To do so on a par-4 is quite difficult as it requires holing in on the second shot.

    Hole-in-One

    Often, when a hole-in-one is recorded, that shot doubles as an eagle. That is because most holes-in-one take place on par-3 holes. Should a golfer hole in on the tee shot, that golfer would record a 1, recording 2-under par on the hole. Again, this is a rare occurrence, even for professionals, but it does happen.

    Origins

    According to Scottish golf lore, the term eagle was coined as an extension of the term birdie. It was coined as a way of saying big birdie, since an eagle is such a large bird.

    Double-Eagle

    Even rarer than an eagle is a double-eagle, in which a golfer shoots 3 under par on a hole. This is only possible on par-4 or longer holes. On par-4s, it requires a golfer to hit a hole-in-one, which almost never happens. On par-5s, it requires a golfer to hole her second shot, which, again, is an extremely rare occurrence. These are not possible on par-3 holes since it's not possible to shoot 3-under par on such a hole.

    About the Author

    Clint Hale has worked for a number of media outlets since 2004, including the "San Antonio Express-News" (for whom he covered golf, football and general features) and various websites. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas.

    Photo Credits

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