Soaring High: Understanding What an Eagle in Golf Means

golfer making a long putt

Golf is a game of precision, strategy, and skill. One of the most exciting moments in a golfer’s round is when they achieve an “eagle.” This term is widely used to describe a score of two strokes under par on a hole. Eagles can greatly improve a golfer’s overall score and are highly sought after in the world of golf.

In this article, we will discuss the origins of the term “eagle,” the strategies that can increase your chances of achieving one, and how eagles impact golf scores.

An eagle in golf is a score of two strokes under par on a hole, a rare and impressive accomplishment. Achieving an eagle significantly lowers a golfer’s overall score, contributing to a better performance on the course. This article explores the origin, strategies, and impact of eagles in golf, as well as how they compare to other golf scores.

Origin of the Term “Eagle”

The term “eagle” is believed to have originated in the early 1900s, although its exact origins are uncertain. It is thought to have been derived from the term “birdie,” which describes a score of one stroke under par. The term “birdie” originated from the phrase “a bird of a shot,” which was slang for something outstanding. As a score of two strokes under par is even more exceptional than a birdie, the term “eagle” was adopted to represent this higher level of achievement.

How to Achieve an Eagle in Golf

Two Strokes Under Par

An eagle is achieved when a golfer completes a hole using two strokes less than the hole’s predetermined par. For example, if a hole is a par-5, an eagle would be achieved by completing the hole in three strokes.

Strategies for Increasing Eagle Chances

1. Driving Distance and Accuracy

To increase your chances of making an eagle, focus on improving your driving distance and accuracy. Being able to hit the ball farther and more accurately off the tee will put you in a better position to reach the green in fewer strokes.

2. Approach Shots and Course Management

Another crucial factor in achieving eagles is your ability to hit accurate approach shots. This skill allows you to get closer to the hole, setting up easier putts or chip-ins for an eagle. Additionally, effective course management and understanding the layout of each hole can help you select the right clubs and shots to increase your chances of an eagle.

Golfer hitting a shot from the fairway

3. Short Game and Putting Skills

Finally, having a strong short game and solid putting skills are vital in converting your opportunities into eagles. Practicing your chipping and putting will help you capitalize on those rare chances when you find yourself in a position to make an eagle.

The Impact of Eagles on Golf Scores

Eagles have a significant impact on a golfer’s overall score. Achieving just one eagle in a round can lower your score by two strokes, which can make a substantial difference, especially in competitive play. Eagles are relatively rare, even for professional golfers, which makes them all the more valuable when they do occur.

Some famous eagle moments in golf history include Jack Nicklaus’ famous putt on the 15th hole at Augusta National during the 1986 Masters, and Tiger Woods’ incredible chip-in on the 16th hole at the 2005 Masters.

Eagles and Golf Handicaps

The relationship between eagles and a golfer’s handicap is quite significant. Golfers with lower handicaps tend to have a higher likelihood of achieving eagles, as their overall skill level and consistency are greater than those with higher handicaps. Making eagles can also help lower your handicap, as they contribute to a better overall score and demonstrate improvement in your golf game.

Comparing Eagles to Other Golf Scores

Eagles are a higher level of achievement than birdies (one stroke under par), but they are not as rare and exceptional as albatrosses (three strokes under par). The hierarchy of golf scores, from most common to least common, is as follows:

  • Par: Completing a hole in the predetermined number of strokes
  • Bogey: One stroke over par
  • Birdie: One stroke under par
  • Eagle: Two strokes under par
  • Albatross (or Double Eagle): Three strokes under par
  • Hole-in-One: Completing a hole in one stroke (typically on a par-3 hole)

Each of these scores holds its significance in the game of golf, but eagles represent a particularly outstanding accomplishment.

Related: Birdies, Bogeys, Pars, Eagles: Guide to Golf Scoring Terms


What is an eagle in golf?

An eagle in golf is a score of two strokes under par on a hole. It’s a rare and impressive achievement that significantly lowers a golfer’s overall score.

How often do professional golfers make eagles?

The frequency of eagles varies among professional golfers, but they are relatively rare even for the pros. Eagles are more common on par-5 holes, and their occurrence depends on factors such as course layout, golfer’s skill level, and playing conditions.

What is the difference between an eagle and a birdie?

An eagle is a score of two strokes under par on a hole, while a birdie is one stroke under par. Eagles are rarer and more difficult to achieve compared to birdies.

What is the difference between an eagle and an albatross (or double eagle)?

An eagle is two strokes under par on a hole, whereas an albatross (also known as a double eagle) is three strokes under par. Albatrosses are extremely rare and considered one of the most exceptional accomplishments in golf.

How do eagles affect a golfer’s handicap?

Eagles can significantly impact a golfer’s handicap, as they contribute to a better overall score and demonstrate improvement in the golfer’s game. Golfers with lower handicaps tend to have a higher likelihood of achieving eagles, and making eagles can help lower a golfer’s handicap over time.


An eagle in golf is a score of two strokes under par on a hole, which is a rare and impressive achievement. Understanding and striving for eagles can contribute to a golfer’s overall enjoyment and performance in the game. By focusing on improving driving distance, approach shots, and short game skills, golfers can increase their chances of achieving the coveted eagle and experience the thrill of mastering one of golf’s most challenging feats.

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with decades of experience playing this amazing sport. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn, improve and enjoy the game of golf.