What Are the Odds of Making a Double Eagle?

Scoring an albatross is one of golf's rarest achievements

Golfer leaps into the air in celebration
You'll feel like jumping for joy if you defy the odds to make a double-eagle. Westend61/Getty Images

The double eagle, also known as the albatross, is a rare bird on the golf course. Just how hard is it to score a double eagle? Very, very difficult — a double eagle is much rarer than the hole-in-one.

To score an albatross, a golfer has to hole out in two strokes (record a score of two) on a par-5 hole, or make a hole-in-one (a score of one) on a  par-4 hole. And neither of those things happens often, not even at the highest levels of professional golf. (Double eagles are impossible on par-3 holes.)

Double-Eagle Odds: A Million-to-One Shot (At Least)

Double-eagle odds can't be definitively calculated, because nobody is entirely certain how many double eagles are really made at all levels of golf. Different sources give different numbers, which are all just estimates based on incomplete data, which leages to different sources calculating different odds for making a double eagle.

We've seen the figure of 6-million-to-1 commonly quoted on various websites and in some print articles. But a source for that figure is rarely given.

A 2004 article in Golf World magazine quoted Dean Knuth, inventor of the USGA's slope rating system for golf courses and handicaps, as saying the 6-million-to-1 figure is too high. Knuth put the odds at 1-million-to-1. Knuth is such a smart guy, we're inclined to go with his figure. But it should be noted that Knuth's figure is a guesstimate, and that it applies to recreational golfers (the figure for touring pros, who are much more likely than recreational golfers to hit a par-5 green in two strokes, would naturally be lower).

So think of the albatross as a million-to-one shot for "regular" golfers.

Double Eagles Compared to Aces

So if we accept Knuth's estimate of double-eagle odds at 1-million-to-1 (and we do), how does that compare to hole-in-one odds? The odds of making an ace are in the neighborhood of 13,000-to-1 for the average golfer. So holes-in-one are, relatively speaking, easy compared to double eagles.

Here are a few relevant statistics to drive home the point:

  • Approximately 40,000 aces a year are made in the United States, compared to just a couple hundred double-eagles.
  • In the 21 years on the PGA Tour from 1983 through 2003, there were 631 holes-in-one made, but just 56 double eagles. And in none of those years were more than six albatrosses recorded.
  • From its inception in 1950 through 2016, a grand total of 36 doubles eagles were made on the LPGA Tour.
  • From its inception in 1934 through 2016, there were 27 aces in The Masters but only four albatrosses.
  • From 1895 through 2015 at the U.S. Open, there were 44 aces and three double eagles.