eagle in golf

What is an Eagle in Golf, its History, and How to Score One

Eagle is a scoring term used by golfers to represent scoring two strokes less than the par value for a given hole. For example, on a Par 5, the golfer would need to score a 3 to achieve an eagle in golf. On a par 4, an eagle would be (2) strokes and on a Par 3, you’d have to make a hole in one to score an eagle.

The History of the word “Eagle” in Golf

Where did the term Eagle come from and why is it the word used in golf? In our article “What Does Birdie Mean and its History” we explained how birdie was first adopted in the 1910’s as the word to represent a 1-under par golf score.

Golfers then kept with the bird theme, creating the term Eagle, to represent golf scores of 2-under par.

Eagle is an extension of the word birdie and it was used as an expression “big birdie” which was replaced by eagle since Eagle is a big bird.

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Is an Eagle a Good Golf Score?

If you score an eagle, you are an excellent golfer. An eagle is a very good golf score to have on your scorecard.

If you look at golf statistics on the professional golf tours, you’ll notice that Sungjae Im consistently leads the tour in eagles or at least has his name in the top 3 year after year.

At the time of this article he has played 55 rounds of golf (990 holes played) and made 12 eagles, giving him a percentage of just 1.2% of the holes played he scores an eagle.

You can see it’s a rare thing, even for golf pro’s.

Golf Tips to Score More Eagles

Making an eagle in golf is an extremely difficult yet exciting accomplishment. Even the best golfers in the world might be lucky to make 1 eagle in their golf round. But here are some tips you can follow to increase your chances of scoring more eagles in golf.

  • Improve your golf swing to hit farther and straighter
  • Reach the green in 2 strokes on a Par 5
  • Practice putting to increase your chances of making the putt for eagle
  • Practice drills under pressure so you don’t get nervous when you face an eagle opportunity

The best chance of getting an eagle will come on Par 5 holes. Scoring an eagle on a par 5 means getting the ball into the cup in just 3 strokes. If you can reach the green in two strokes, you’ll give yourself a chance to make the putt and finish with a 3 on the scorecard.

To reach the green in just two strokes on a Par 5, you’ll need to increase your distances you can hit your golf clubs. Par 5 holes are long distances, usually 500 yards or more.

You would need to hit your driver at least 280 yards on your tee shot and then follow that up with a successful 220 yard fairway wood to reach the 500 yard green in 2 strokes.

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To get longer off the tee, practice swing speed golf drills to help you increase swing speed which will translate into longer distances and better chances for eagle.

Don’t forget to work on putting! If you get down to the green in 2 strokes on a par 5 and have an opportunity for eagle, you don’t want to screw it up by missing the putt. Practice putting to sink more eagle putts.

When practicing drills to improve your golf skills, make sure they are drills that add pressure so you can build mental golf strength. It will take nerves of steel to make an eagle in golf. You don’t want to let nerves get the best of you.

Scoring an Eagle in Golf with Handicap

While scoring an eagle in golf is very rare, it’s more common in handicap golf games where golfers get to adjust their score using handicaps. We cover how to establish a handicap in detail in our Golf Handicap System Explained article that is worth checking out.

Scoring a handicap golf eagle means scoring 2-under par on a hole but its an adjusted score. Your real score might have been a par or a birdie but after taking off a stroke or two from your score to adjust for handicap, the end result is an eagle for the hole.

This is common in skins games where the handicap eagle wins the skin for the hole as the low score. Usually when a player gets two strokes given to them and they happen to make a natural par, leaving them with an adjusted score of eagle after taking off the two strokes they got for the hole.

If you’re lucky to make a natural birdie on a hole and you also get a stroke on the hole for handicap, then this also creates an eagle on the scorecard.

Final Thoughts on Scoring an Eagle in Golf

Overall, eagles are hard to achieve but very satisfying. If you can score an eagle in golf, you are joining a rare percentage of golfers worldwide.

To score an eagle, you must score 2-under par. This means scoring:

  • 3 on a Par 5
  • 2 on a Par 4
  • 1 on a Par 3

Scoring an eagle will cancel out two bogies on your score card, so if your goal is to score par or better for 9 holes, an eagle is a great way to boost your chances!

The next time your at a golf tournament or playing a round with friends, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge of what an eagle means, tips for scoring eagles, and the history of the golf term. Thanks for reading!

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