The albatross (or double-eagle if you prefer) is possibly the rarest of feats any golfer can achieve. It’s so rare, in fact, that the odds of us mere mortals basking in such glory stand somewhere around the 1,000,000-1 mark. To put that into a little bit of perspective, the odds of managing a hole-in-one at some point in the average golfer’s career sit at a rather more ‘achievable’ level of 13,000-1.
In the many years of major championship golf only 18 albatrosses have been carded, and only 17 men in the history of the game have been admitted to this most exclusive of clubs.
So then, if it is unlikely that we will ever get to experience the thrill of a three-under-par score on any single hole, let’s sit back and enjoy a run through a selection of golfers who have done just that.
In only the second ever Masters, back when it was still called the Augusta National Invitational, Gene Sarazen was entering his final few holes firmly up against it as tournament leader Craig Wood sat in the clubhouse with a comfortable three shot cushion.
After a solid drive on the par-5 15th, Sarazen elected to go for the green in two. A stinging four wood travelled the remaining 235 yards and into the cup for one of the earliest recorded ‘double eagles’ in the history of the game. The ‘shot heard round the world’ had ignited a Sarazen comeback which seemed impossible to halt.
The American went on to prevail in a 36 hole playoff against Wood.
Another magical Masters moment came in 2012 when South African Louis Oosthuizen scored a glorious albatross two on the par-5 second hole at Augusta National.
On his way to an eventual playoff defeat against Bubba Watson, the 2010 Open Champion took the outright lead when his second shot landed just shy of the fringe before traversing almost the entire length of the green up to its final round back pin location. The ball disappeared for only the fourth (and most recent) albatross in Masters history and, as you’d expect, the crowd went wild.
Ha Na Jang
During last year’s Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic Ha Na Jang managed to hole one of the rarest shots in all of golf.
At the par-4 eighth hole the Korean was enticed by a shortened 218 yards dogleg left, refusing to be put off by lapping waves and the beach just metres from the green.
Her three wood tee shot took one hop onto the surface of the green and, from the get go, seemed destined for the bottom of the cup. Jang has just become the first female golfer in the history of the LPGA to card a hole in one on a par-4 hole.
The very next week she went on to claim a first LPGA title at the Coates Golf Championship at Golden Ocala Golf Club in Florida. Two truly historic achievements in just eight days
The only man in the history of the game with two albatrosses to his name in major championships, Maggert bagged the first with a colossal 222 yard 3-iron hole out at the par-5 13th during the 1994 Masters. Fast forward to the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and the American managed to snare the second big bird in his major career.
With great simplicity in his swing, there may be a lesson in Jeff’s game for all of us.
In 2005 American Daniel Berger hit the first ever albatross at the Arnold Palmer Invitational by nailing his four iron approach shot 237 yards at the par-5 sixth hole.
The ball cleared the water hazard before landing softly on the green and rolling unerringly into the cup for a magnificent two.
Here’s a reminder of history in the making at The King’s annual event at Bay Hill.
Back in 1982, at the Westchester Country Club, Bob Gilder hit arguably the best second shot ever on the PGA Tour. On his way to carding a record low score at the Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic, he managed to hole out from 251 yards with a 3-wood.
Indeed, the PGA Tour recently voted this shot in at number one in a compilation of albatrosses scored within their sanctioned tournaments.
And we say rightly so.
Rafa’s first career albatross features in our list of most memorable partly due to the fact that it was truly spectacular, but also given that it is the most recent on Tour.
At this year’s Players Championship, the Spaniard managed a T-4 finish thanks in no small part to a shot that he will remember forever.
Having holed his second shot on the par-5, after a super-favourable kick off the bank, Rafa got understandably carried away and his 8-iron (yeah, that’s right, 8-iron) ended up in the drink.
During the 2007 Volvo Masters at Valderrama, Graeme McDowell hit a 186-yard approach shot at the notorious par-5 17th hole to the front edge of the green. The ball travelled a further 20 yards into the cup and propelled the Northern Irishman into a tied lead with one hole of the tournament to play.
Still pumped from the penultimate hole’s drama, his final tee shot found the trees and led to a double-bogey six when a par would have secured a play-off.
The golfing gods giveth, and they taketh away.
Minjee Lee quickly followed up Ha Na Jang’s historic hole-in-one albatross with a second in the ladies game in less than two months.
At the Kia Classic in March 2016 the Australian hit her tee shot from the shortened 16th hole into the rough just short of the green. With one skip the ball landed onto the fringe and trundled its way into the hole.
Oh, and she was a mere teenager at the time.
We hope you enjoyed our list of ten glorious albatrosses achieved throughout the history of the global game.
So what do you think? Sure they're all pretty epic, but which do you think is the greatest? Have we missed any??