In golf, what is an albatross?

Category: Rules of the Game

Clue

Europeans are more likely to use the phrase 'albatross' while Americans have a different phrase - also big bird oriented - for the same thing.

Answer

An albatross is 3 under par for one hole. A 1 on a par 5. A hole in one on a par 4. In America it's more commanly known as a Double Eagle.

More interesting reading and links of interest

In 19th century USA the phrase 'bird' was often used for something that was cool or good. It's thought that this is where 'bird' or 'birdie' was first introduced for a hole played one under par. From there the phrases 'eagle' and then a 'double eagle' or 'albatross' were introduced to signify birds that were rare and special.

Famous albatrosses in golf history include:

  • In the final round of the 1935 Masters, Gene Sarazen holed out his second shot on the par 5 15th. Picking up three shots against a par with three holes to go helped him chase down and  tie with Craig Wood. He went on to win the playoff and the tournament. This one golf shot is often known as 'the shot that was heard around the world'.
  • In 2012 Louis Oosthuizen also managed an albatross at the Masters, his coming on the par 5 second hole. Helped by this albatross Louis made a play-off that year. Unfortunately for him, Louis lost the play-off to Bubba Watson.
  • The first recorded albatross in a major tournament was by Young Tom Morris in the Open of 1870. You could not get a better start to a tournament as Young Tom made albatross on the first hole in the first round. The first hole at Prestwick at that time was a par six and Tom took three shots. Young Tom Morris went on to win the tournament by 12 shots.