The Albatross Golf Goal: What Is An Albatross And How To Achieve It?

The rarest of birds. A double eagle. 3-under par. These are all various terms that golfers use to describe an albatross in golf.

So, what is an albatross golf shot?

The most simple definition: an albatross is when you score 3-under par on a hole. It is quite hard to accomplish.

There are three achievements that even most scratch golfers will never experience and they are treated with significant reverence.

These are shooting 59 for 18 holes, Shooting 29 for 9 holes, and making an albatross in golf. Do you know anyone who has achieved any of these feats?

Today we’re focusing on the elusive albatross golf goal. How do you make one? How rare is it? What’s the etiquette if you achieve an albatross golf shot?

Let’s get into the swing of it!

A male golfer star jumps for joy against a blue sky - maybe he achieved his albatross golf goal!

How Do You Make An Albatross In Golf?

There are a few ways to achieve your albatross golf goal.

To achieve an albatross golf shot, you need to finish the hole in 3 strokes less than par.

This eliminates par 3s because the best you can do is make 1 and that would only be an eagle. Sort of impossible to make a zero.

Next up, you can achieve the elusive albatross golf feat by scoring a hole in one on a par 4. Tough to do because there are very few par 4s that you can reach in one shot.

Finally, you can make a 2 on a par 5. This is the most likely albatross in golf, but still very rare.

First, you have to reach the par 5 in two shots – this requires two great swings. Less than 10% of golfers ever reach a par 5 with two swings.

Second, the ball has to go in the hole. Making a shot from 220 – 260 yards away with a 3-wood or long iron does not happen very often.

A female golfer wearing a cap and hair in 
 a plait takes a sip of water on the course.

How Rare Is An Albatross In Golf?

Very rare. Section over.

Okay, we can go a little deeper . . .

Most experts estimate the odds of making an albatross in golf at 1,000,000 to 1, but some think it is even higher (closer to 6,000,000 to 1).

Of course, lower golf handicap players have a better chance because they might be able to drive a par 4 or reach a par 5 in two. More distance always helps!

To put it another way, you are much more likely to get struck by lightning (555,000 to one) than to make an albatross in golf!

The 3 Most Famous Albatrosses In Golf History

Professional golfers do occasionally score an albatross in golf. Here are our 3 favorites.

Five golfers practice hitting shots on the course.

#1: Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard Around The World”

This albatross is legendary. The setting and situation couldn’t be better.

You have a hall of fame player playing in the biggest golf tournament in the world. It happened on the final day and this magical shot allowed Sarazen to win.

It was the 1935 Masters. Sarazen was 3 strokes off the lead when he teed off on the par 5 15th hole at Augusta National.

Sarazen hit his drive in the fairway. His second shot was from 235 yards. He decided to hit a 4-wood and when it dropped in the hole he was suddenly tied for the lead!

He went on to win the tournament in a playoff the next day! This was the first albatross ever recorded in a major event.

Male golfer wearing a striped t-shirt swings the club down to hit the golfball.

#2: Andrew Magee’s Hole In One On A Par 4

This one proves that you need a little luck to make an albatross in golf.

Magee was playing the 17th hole in his first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in 2001. This par 4 at TPC Scottsdale is drivable for some players.

Andrew didn’t believe he was long enough to reach the green, so he teed off while the group in front of him was still on the green.

This is when it got crazy. Magee hit his driver well and there was some wind behind him. The ball bounced on the green.

Tom Byrum was in the group in front of him and was standing on the fringe waiting to putt. His putter was resting on the ground.

Amazingly, Magee’s ball bounced off Byrum’s putter and rolled into the hole! Initially, there was confusion about the rules.

There was a discussion with the officials and it was determined that Magee’s shot does count as an albatross! You have to see it to believe it.

Four golfers observe a player taking his shot, standing on a hill.

#3: Tiger’s Epic Albatross!

Since 1996 when Tiger Woods turned professional and did his famous “Hello World” press conference he has been setting records.

It is hard to make a “best of golf” list and not include Tiger. We felt obligated to include his albatross in our top 3.

There is only one problem. He has never made one in a competitive round of golf! Yes, he has made one in a practice round, but never in a tournament.

A truly amazing fact. If Tiger can’t achieve an albatross golf shot in a round, how are you supposed to? Just a reminder to make sure your golf goals are reasonable.

We recommend you document your improvement plan to lower your handicap, but don’t include “make an albatross in golf” on your list.

Instead, stick with working on breaking 100, breaking 90, or breaking 80 for the first time.

A male and female golfer observe their fellow female golfer take her shot.

What Should You Do If You Make An Albatross In Golf?

The odds are stacked against you to achieve your albatross golf goal, but here are some “Dos” and “Don’ts” if you happen to pull it off!

DO: Go crazy! Let out a scream. High-five the rest of your foursome. Celebrate like a hole in one (but you don’t have to buy drinks).

DON’T: Hit that golf ball again. Save it and display it proudly on your mantle. Anytime someone asks you can tell the “story of your albatross”. Find any excuse to tell this story!

DO: Save the scorecard. Get your playing partners to sign it as witnesses. Frame it.

DON’T: Be humble. Tell everyone you know and even some people you don’t know. There is no shame in being proud of your albatross in golf.

DO: Enjoy the moment. Very few golfers ever make an albatross. You are now part of an exclusive club.

DON’T: Expect it to happen again. Think about it this way – you are now leading Tiger 1-0!

Two male golfers carry their bags back to their carts.

Albatrosses Are Hard – What About Holes In One?

Would you rather aim for a hole-in-one than an albatross golf shot? Check out our guide below!

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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