What Is An Eagle In Golf – How to Score An Eagle In Golf?

Each individual hole on the course is assigned a par value, with par-3, par-4, and par-5 being the most common while par-6 rarely makes an appearance (what does par mean in golf).

So if it’s a par-5 hole, you have to take five strokes for completing that hole. But then what if you need just 3 strokes? This means 2 less than par. And now you’ve scored what’s known in golf to be an “eagle.”

So what is an eagle in golf? And what type of golfers are able to get an eagle? To answer the second question first, highly skilled golfers (and you also have to be a lucky one!).

Now, this doesn’t mean that every PGA Tour player can score an eagle. Eagle-less rounds of golf in PGA Tour competitions are actually quite common.

And now to answer the first question…

Definition/Meaning of ‘EAGLE’ – A Golfing Term!

When your score is 2 strokes under par, the term used to describe that is called EAGLE. When viewed as a verb, eagle means to shoot 2-under par on a given hole.

And now with relation to different par values… An eagle is a score of 3 on par-5, 2 on par-4, and 1 on par-3 (this last one is also referred to as ‘hole-in-one’).

The thing about eagles is that they don’t materialize often. Only in extremely rare cases (and that’s mostly on par-5s), which makes them so special. On par-5s because it’s only then that, after you shoot 2 long shots for starting the hole, you end up with a long chip or putt on the 3rd one.

And at such times, if you manage to hole the shot, congratulation you just recorded an eagle! Therefore, not so common or easy on par-4s since an eagle, in this case, demands that you hole in on your second shot.

In comparison to bogey (1-over par) and birdie (1-under par), eagle comes about less frequently.

‘Eagle’ – Where Does This Golf Term Come From?

The term ‘eagle’ in golf has a lot to do with its sibling ‘birdie.’ The former is actually an extension of the latter. A big birdie (birdie is 1-under par and eagle is 2-under par) sounds like a large bird i.e. an eagle.

Is Scoring An Eagle A Good Thing In Golf?

There’s just no denying that an eagle, even though it rarely occurs in the game of golf, is supposed to be very good. It actually is a valid cause for celebration. You should be nothing but proud of yourself and your impressive golfing skills if you get an eagle.

But then not every golfer who scores an eagle knows of its chance happening, and this is the one and only downside to when you make an eagle. The majority of eagles are shot when a far-distance shot of yours sinks straight into that hole/cup. And mostly you’re never able to witness that holing in of the golf ball.

So what can be done is, after you hit a grand long-distance shot that seems like it’s bound to reach that hole and then you can’t find the ball on or near the green upon looking, make sure to peep inside the hole. You may just actually find the golf ball in there!

Why Is An Eagle Called An ‘Eagle’ In Golf?

During the early years of the 20th century – that’s when the golf terms ‘eagle’ was coined in America. What started off to be known as “a bird of a shot” for an excellent hole later got the official term of “birdie” that represented 1-under par. And anything that was better than birdie was labeled an “eagle.”

How Rare Is An Eagle In Golf?

So much talk about scoring an eagle whereas it’s such a rare occurrence because of how challenging it is for golfers, even PGA Tour pros, to actually aim for an eagle. You have to be able to maneuver your golfing skills to achieve this particular goal.

For the most part, long hitters who tend to smash their drives through maximizing power are likely to score an eagle. Now, this doesn’t mean you should be discouraged from trying using one of the best golf drivers of all time. Just make sure you’re trying your luck for an eagle on a par-5 hole as it’s not as tight as par-4 and par-3 holes.

Eagle In Golf – How to Score One?

If you’re an average golfer, then chances are you won’t be able to make an eagle. But you can always try. So here’s how to improve those odds stacked up against you. The ultimate goal here is to hit your shots farther so you’re closer to the hole. And if you’re closer to the hole, you’re more likely to hit the next shot right into that hole.

1. The Design and Natural Elements of the Golf Course

Let mother nature come to your rescue. Meaning use shifting winds, trees (their presence or absence), dry ground surface, altitude and elevation, temperature changes, etc. for hitting the golf ball a longer distance away.

How you can use equipment to do that is by choosing your golf driver based on your weaknesses. For example, slow-swingers i.e. beginners choose highly forgiving drivers, seniors opt for lightweight-to-swing drivers, and women golfers pick speed-boosting drivers.

As for taking advantage of the design of the golf course and all that natural terrain, let the wavy structure of the putting greens help in funneling the golf ball toward the hole. Another great example would be making the most of firm, fast fairways that increase ball rollout to add yardages.

2. Shorter Golf Courses

Being closer to the hole is the best chance you have of shooting the ball into that hole at the next shot. In that case, play a tee that’s more forward, there’s nothing wrong with that. This is sure to reduce the length of the course. And no, it’s not just women golfers who do that, men are and should be included too!

3. Altitude or Elevation

Higher altitude means longer carry distance. Hence, extra yards can be achieved through a higher altitude. To be more specific, an additional 2-percent longer for every 1,000-feet of altitude above sea level.

Moving on to elevation change, golf holes playing downhill very effectively reduce the length. Therefore, it becomes much easier then for you to shoot farther.

4. Temperature

When it’s hotter, you can get the golf ball to fly farther. 1-2 extra yardages achieved for every 10 degrees of increase in the temperature.

5. Wind Direction

When you hit the ball downwind, which means in the direction of the wind, you’re adding carry distance as well as increasing rollout distance, thus additional yards gained per shot.

6. Firmness of the Ground

Firmer ground equals to longer rollout distance, by 10-15 extra yards. So why not use this particular factor to your benefit!

7. Trees

Aren’t trees nothing but obstacles in the game of golf that literally interfere with the progress of the ball down the golf course? Yes, that is true indeed BUT not many also realize the opportunistic possibility presented by trees. Sometimes, they can give rise to much-needed bounce.

Also, if there aren’t too many trees, then that’ll just translate into the wind having a huge impact on the flight of the golf ball.

8. Short Game

One reason why PGA Tour pros seem to be so skilled at what they do is that they manage to somehow ace the short game every single time. More specifically, you should be focusing on improving your short game from within 100 yards. Work on factors like accuracy within this distance to increase the chances of one of those shots going in to score an eagle.

9. Hole-In-One On Par-3

For every par-3 hole, why not aim for a hole-in-one!

What Is A Double-Eagle In Golf?

If an eagle is rare then a double-eagle is its even rarer sibling. The latter means a score of 3-under par on the hole, which, only when possible, is done on just a par-4 hole or a longer one.

Par-4s require you to shoot a highly unlikely-to-succeed hole-in-one. Par-5s call for holing your second shot. And this, once again, is also extremely uncommon. You also cannot score a double-eagle on a par-3 hole because it’s impossible for any golfer to even think of aiming for 3-under par on this type of hole.

How Many Strokes for An Eagle In Golf?

Based on the definition of eagle i.e. 2-under par, you need to achieve the following to earn an eagle…

  • 1 stroke on par-3 (also known as hole-in-one).
  • 2 strokes on par-4.
  • 3 strokes on par-5.
  • 4 strokes on par-6.

What Does It Really Mean When You Score An Eagle In Golf?

You’re sure to become a golf legend if you can make eagles all the time. No doubt, this would boost your confidence levels to a whole new height. And talk about crushing your fellow golfers and competitors!

The higher the number of eagles you achieve, the lower are your scores in golf. Hence, better chances of actually winning that game. When you make an eagle often, consider yourself to never again be termed as an ‘average golfer.’

What’s Better Than An Eagle In Golf?

That would be double-eagle or albatross – a continuation of birdie and eagle in golf. So albatross or double-eagle is 3-under par. And it’s supposed to be an even more infrequent or rarer occurrence in the game of golf, hence even more celebratory.

You shoot into the blind green with no idea where the ball has landed. And then you assume it’s gone off to the right somewhere. But maybe the golf ball managed to make that hole-in-one on par-4, also called scoring a double-eagle or albatross.

Summing It Up Then…

By the end of it, now you know what is a birdie in golf, even what is a double-eagle in golf. A birdie is 1-under, an eagle is 2-under, and a double-eagle is 3-under. So based on the definition of an eagle shot in golf, you have to make a hole-in-one on par-3 and sink the second shot on par-4.

And the highest possibility of achieving an eagle is scoring 3 on par-5. Nevertheless, the odds seem to be stacked against amateur or average golfers. But at least now you know what it actually means.

Photo of author

Jim Furyk

One of the PGA TOUR’s most recognizable and talented golfers, Jim Furyk was born on May 12, 1970 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It seems like Furyk was born to play golf; his father Mike as an assistant pro at Edgmont Country club, and young Jim was raised into the game. Jim Furyk’s only golf instruction came from his father; and many note that might account for his unusual—yet effective—swing. In addition to Edgmont Country Club, Mike Furyk also served as head pro at Uniontown Country Club.

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