The Norman Transcript

National Sports

April 10, 2013

Double eagle: The golf term that makes no sense

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Gene Sarazen hit “the shot heard ‘round the world,” holing out with a 4-wood from 235 yards in the 15th fairway at Augusta National in 1935. He put a 2 on his card, made up a three-shot deficit with one swing, and then beat Craig Wood in a playoff the next day.

It was the shot that put the Masters on the map.

And it led to a golf term that was made in America, used only in America, and doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Double eagle?

“It’s an albatross,” Padraig Harrington said, incredulous that anyone would dare call it anything else. “There’s no such thing in life as a double eagle. Is there? Two eagles side by side are two eagles, not a double eagle. You don’t refer to animals ... ‘Oh, I just saw a double elephant over there.’ There’s no doubting what it is. It’s an albatross.”

On every other continent where golf is played, a score of 3-under par on a hole is known as an albatross.

Where the term “double eagle” came from is one of golf’s mysteries, and it simply doesn’t add up. A birdie is universally known as a score of 1-under par on a hole. An eagle is 2-under par. Double that — a double eagle — and it would be 4-under par.

“That’s American mathematics for you,” Hunter Mahan said. “That’s why we’re 40th in the world or whatever. I think albatross sounds cool.”

By whatever name, it’s one of the rarest shots in golf. And it returned to the conversation last year at the Masters when Louis Oosthuizen made an albatross on the second hole of the final round. He hit 4-iron from 253 yards, the first 2 on that hole in Masters history.

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