What is an Albatross in Golf?
A Hole-In-One is usually what most golf players dream of achieving. But shouldn’t an albatross rank as high, or even higher? In this article, we will delve into how incredible an achievement getting an albatross really is (and what it is). We will also reveal what pieces of evidence we have for when the first Albatross was scored.
(And if you scroll down you will find a video of the Top 10 Albatrosses on the European Tour!)
Is Golf a Good Walk Spoiled or is achieving an Albatross realistic?
The “PAR” system is really unique to the game of golf and usually separates the length of the hole. A par 3, where the goal should be to complete the hole in 3 strokes or less, is shorter than a par 5 where the goal is to complete the hole in 5 strokes or less.
Golfers usually allows 2 putting stroke on every given hole, thus for a par 5 that means you will need to reach the green in 3 strokes.
Example: How to make par on a Par 5. (Of course, i.e. 5 iron is only an example, it could be any transport/distance club)
Driver -> 5 Iron -> Wedge -> putt -> putt -> PAR
Better than a Par is 1 stroke below par – a “Birdie”. In order to achieve a birdie on a Par 5, you have to eliminate one of the strokes in the example given above. Either you
Drive -> 5 iron -> Putt -> Putt or Drive -> 5 Iron -> Wedge -> Putt
Okay, so far so good. But what if you manage to eliminate 2 of those shots? That’s when you get 2 strokes below Par and that is 3 strokes on a Par 5 and this is called getting an “Eagle”.
To achieve the eagle you have to eliminate 2 strokes out of the first example!
Driver -> 5 Iron -> Putt -> EAGLE
Just to get you up to speed, and Eagle is achieved getting -2 strokes on any Par. So for a Par 4 you need to complete the hole in 2 strokes.
Well, this Eagle-business seems hard enough. When will you explain the Albatross? As you might have figured out by now, to achieve an Albatross you have to eliminate another of the strokes given in the first example – that is 3 strokes below par. On a Par 5 you have to complete the hole in 2 shots!
Just to get the message across I will continue with my first example and illustrate how that would be achieved:
Driver -> 5 Iron -> ALBATROSS
If you are like me, and still don’t believe it is possible here is a video of the Top 10 Albatrosses on the European Tour
Number 5 is my favorite, 230 something yards and no visibility of the flag!
What is more difficult – A Hole In One or Albatross?
We can instantly separate on which holes that allows you to achieve either a Hole In One or an Albatross.
You are only able to complete an albatross on: Par 4 or Par 5
You are only able to complete a Hole In One on: Par 3 or Par 4 (Theoretically)
To dig into this even further, according to Golf.com that lists Albatrosses in important tournaments, a Par 4 Hole In One (Albatross) is far less common than 2 strokes on a Par 5.
So what is more difficult? I’ll let these numbers do the talking:
- Every year, around approximately 40,000 Hole In Ones are achieved every year in the United States.
- Less than 1,000 Albatrosses are recorded at Golf Clubs in the US, every year. That is less than 1 Albatross for every 40 Hole In Ones.
- From Inceptions up to 2016 there where 702 Hole in Ones recorded at The PGA Tour, The US Masters, and The Open. In this same time there where only 62 Albatrosses in these same tournaments.
This shows that it is way more common to score a Hole in One in any given golf-day. To make it even more unreachable not everyone can reach the green in 2 strokes on a Par 5, but almost everyone can reach the green on a Par 3.
So to circle back to the initial question – should the dream now be focused towards getting an Albatross instead of a Hole In One?
What an Albatross and a Hole In One looks like on a scorecard
I’ll let you decide for yourself, but I think I’d still take a Hole In One any given day!
When was the first Albatross recorded?
This question is of course not very easy to answer and the information on this topic varies across the internet. One thing that probably correlates pretty high with the achievement of 3 under par is the invention and usage of steel clubs. The old Hickory clubs (that are still used today, but mostly as a gag) could not reach the green on a Par 5 in 2 strokes. The steel clubs exploded in the late 1920s and the in the beginning of the 30s and it really reduced the number of strokes on a typical golf round.
The first ever recorded Albatross is said to be from 1931 when a gentleman by the name of E E Wooler scored a Hole in One on a Par 4.
The achievement then later came to cost the South American 40 pounds in drinks at the Durban County Club.
This was published in The Straits Times 14 Sep 1931 noting a “costly Hole in One”.
Wooler was advised by his co-player to scratch the Hole in One but he wanted to take the praise.
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