There’s nothing better than playing a lovely course with your pals on a sunny day. Yes – we’re talking about golf here. Golf is a cross-country sport where players use various clubs to hit a tiny ball into a sequence of holes on a course from multiple starting positions or tee boxes. Whoever holes their golf ball in the fewest number of attempts throughout the whole carry distance wins. 

This game has so many ways to score, you can play as many holes as you want, and you can compete with anyone despite contrasting abilities, which is why anyone gets easily hooked on playing this game.

If you’re still learning your way around the golf course and the jargon that comes with it, our golf terms section has everything you need to know.

Let’s Get Familiar With Golf Terms!

While we’ve all probably seen golf in person or on television, not all of us are well-versed with all the golf terms. So let’s begin with the following terms:

Par is a good place to start when learning golf score names. The term “par” describes how many strokes a skilled golfer should require to play one hole on a golf course.

A hole’s par always allows for two shots, regardless of distance. For example, on a 150-yard hole, an experienced golfer is expected to hit the green with his tee shot, require two shots, and finish the hole in three strokes. Therefore, such a hole is referred to as a par 3.

In addition, every hole on a golf course is classified as a par-3, par-4, or par-5 (par-6 holes also exist, but they are rare).

A skilled or very lucky golfer can finish a given hole in fewer strokes than the par (called “under par”). Of course, the majority of us are not “experts” at playing golf; hence, we will typically need more strokes than the par on most courses (called “over par”). That’s where the other expressions, such as “birdies,” “big birdies,” “eagles,” “bogeys,” and so on, become helpful. 

What is an eagle in golf? 

An eagle is when you hole your ball in three shots on a par-5 hole. Another example of an eagle would be if you holed your ball in two shots on a par-4 hole. A par-3 hole-in-one is also considered an eagle but is almost always referred to as a hole-in-one.

According to H.B. Martin’s book Fifty Years of American Golf, the term ‘eagle’ in golf originated in Atlantic City in 1903. When a player had a good hole, golfers used to call it “a bird of a shot.” That evolved to represent one under par, hence the term “birdie,” and anything better was called an eagle.

The Actual Strokes Required to Achieve These Golf Scores

Following are the most popular golf shot scoring phrases for holes with pars of 5, 4, and 3 in real strokes:

5-par hole

On a par-5, a double eagle signifies that you completed the hole in two strokes.

  • Eagle: Finished the hole on the third shot.
  • Birdie: Four strokes to complete the hole.
  • Par: Five strokes to complete the hole.
  • Bogey: Six strokes to complete the hole.
  • Double bogey: Seven strokes to complete the hole.
  • Triple bogey: Eight strokes to complete the hole.

4-par hole

A hole-in-one is known as a double eagle when it occurs on a par-4 hole (very, very rare on par-4 golf holes)

  • Eagle: Only two strokes to complete the hole.
  • Birdie: Made it into the hole in three strokes.
  • Par: Four strokes to complete the hole.
  • Bogey: Five strokes to complete the hole.
  • Double bogey: Six strokes to complete the hole.
  • Triple bogey: Seven strokes to complete the hole.

3-par hole

Double eagle: Par-3 golf holes do not allow for double eagles (a score of 3-under on a par-3 would be zero)

  • Eagle: Hole in one!
  • Birdie: Completed the hole in two strokes.
  • Par: Finished the hole on the third shot.
  • Bogey: Four strokes to complete the hole.
  • Double bogey: Five strokes to complete the hole.
  • Triple bogey: Six strokes to complete the hole.

There is a limit to how far under par a golfer may go because a par-5 hole is the highest par most golfers will ever encounter. But you can also refer to a hole-in-one, which you achieve with your first shot, as an “ace.” On a par-5 hole, an ace means a golfer is 4-under on that given hole, and, yes, professional golfers have a term for that, too: condor.

The prefix indicating scores exceeding par can be added indefinitely, as in quadruple bogey, quintuple bogey, and so on. I’m hoping you’ll never need to know that.

In contrast to the double eagle (on a par-4) or eagle in golf, any hole-in-one or ace will be referred to as such (on a par 3). In addition, the phrase “double eagle” is preferred in the United States, while most golfing community prefers the term “albatross.”

What’s Better than an Eagle in Golf?

In golf, a double eagle is a hole-in-one score three under par. Because it is the rarest of all golfing birds, it is considered an “albatross” in Britain. A player must either make a hole-in-one on a par-4 or hole their second shot to a par-5 to make a double eagle in golf or albatross.

How Rare is an Eagle in Golf?

Even if a golf eagle is not the rarest golfing bird, any average golfer will appreciate seeing one. Here, we’ll look at the origins of the expression and what a golf eagle implies in golf.

A score of under par on a golf hole is called an eagle (or the score that an average golfer would record on that hole).

Golfers most frequently score eagle in golf on par-5 golf holes when they can get to the putting greens in two strokes and putt for a three. A golfer may occasionally make an eagle shot by sinking a longer par-5 shot, such as a chip, pitch, or full stroke.

A golfer could be able to drive the green on a short par-4 and hole the putt for an eagle 2. Or, they may make a long putt and hole it for a par-4 score of two under par.

An eagle shot on a par-3 hole will also earn the player one of golf’s greatest accomplishments: a hole-in-one.

Professional golfers frequently make an eagle shot on par-5 golf holes, but they can also be essential in competitive play, especially if made near the finish of a competition.

It’s a memorable moment for most golfers when they score an eagle, even though it doesn’t happen much.

What is a Double Eagle in Golf?

A 3-under par score on a hole is called a “double eagle” in golf. Specifically, the following scores lead to a double eagle in golf:

  • A double eagle is a score of one on a par-4 hole (a hole-in-one).
  • A double eagle is a score of two on a par-5 hole.
  • A par-6 hole may appear if you play enough golf; a double eagle on a par-6 scores three. On par-3 golf holes, double eagles are impossible (3-under on a par-3 hole is zero).

Since double eagles nearly always need a stroke to be played from the fairway rather than a shot from the tee box on a par-3, they are significantly rarer than holes in one. When a golfer makes a double eagle on a par 4, it counts as a tee shot, but the scorers would refer to it as a hole-in-one instead of a double eagle. Most double eagles occur on par-5 courses when the player hits the green with his second shot after hitting a long drive, and the golf ball rolls into the hole. The Masters Tournament has only recorded four double eagles in its history, demonstrating their rarity.

The most frequent alternative to “double eagle” in golf is “albatross,” Since both phrases have existed, it has likely been used more frequently than the original term. We understand that the terms are used fairly evenly today when referring to a hole score of 3-under par.

Wrapping Up

At this point, you should understand exactly what an eagle is in golf and all the different ways you can score one. Good luck on next golf outing and if you found this article helpful, please share it on social media!

About the Author

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley is an accomplished golfer with over 8 years of experience, both in competitive play during his high school years and as a standout member of Kutztown University’s club team. His deep understanding of the game extends beyond the course; as a certified club fitter at Golf Galaxy, Gavin excels in pairing players with clubs that perfectly suit their swing while providing insightful tips to improve their overall game.

Passionate about the sport, his primary goal is to promote golf’s growth and accessibility. He is particularly focused on mentoring beginners and intermediate players, sharing his knowledge and techniques to help them advance their skills and deepen their enjoyment of the game. His blend of on-course experience and off-course expertise makes him a valuable guide for anyone looking to enhance their golf journey.