When it comes to a hole-in-one, an albatross or, even a condor, most golfers know they're all extra special - and extra hard to achieve.
But just how special are they? Like, what are the odds?
Let's take a look at the three most coveted scores in golf and try to explain...
1. Hole-in-One or Ace
According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of the average golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to 1. Broken down even further, here are the odds of:
Tour player making an ace: 3,000 to 1
Low-handicapper making an ace: 5,000 to 1
Two players from the same foursome acing the same hole: 17 million to 1
One player making two holes-in-one in the same round: 67 million to 1
Each year there are 450 million rounds of golf played in the U.S., which is approximately 25,000-30,000 per course. Each course reports between 10-15 aces per year. Basically, that means a hole-in-one is scored once in every 3,500 rounds.
Only 1-2% of golfers score an ace in a year. The average years of playing golf for a player before making an ace is 24. Can you believe that?
The age group that makes the most hole-in-ones? That would be golfers between 50-59, which account for 25% of aces each year. The next highest percentage age group consists of players between 40-49, who account for 24% of annual aces. 16% of holes-in-one are made by women and the average age of those women is 55.
These numbers may be staggering, but it is also worth noting that the average handicap of a golfer who makes a hole-in-one is 14. That should prove encouraging for a lot of folks. You clearly don't have to be the best player on the course... you just have to be the luckiest, once.
2. Albatross or Double Eagle
An albatross is achieved when a player either aces a par 4, or scores a "2" on a par 5.
The Double Eagle Club, which touts itself as, "the worldwide registry for double eagles scored," features a story from former longtime Golf World writer Bill Fields, that states the odds of an albatross are an estimated 6 million to 1.
But, Fields writes:
Dean Knuth, who was senior director of the handicap department at the USGA from 1981 to 1997 and now a Golf Digest contributing editor, says they're lower than that but still great, about a million-to-one shot.
That makes your chances of becoming one of the couple of hundred golfers a year to make a double eagle (as opposed to 40,000 aces) better than being killed by a shark (1 in 350 million) or dying from a dog bite (one in 18 million) but worse than being struck by lightning (one in 555,000) or, for a woman, having quadruplets without the aid of fertility drugs (one in 729,000).
"They're definitely far more rare than aces," Knuth says. "Someone has to hit two great shots. You have to have length and ability. Only a small percentage of golfers, less then 10 percent, ever reach a par 5 in two. That means 90 percent of golfers don't have a chance of making one."
Imagine that. You have a better chance to be struck by lightning than you do of making an albatross.
First of all, have you even heard of a condor? We're not talking about the bird (a vulture), but the absolute rarest shot in golf. It's a "1" on a par 5, which believe it or not, has actually happened a handful of times.
As of late, there have been 5 recorded condors in history.
The first occurred in 1962, when Larry Bruce drove into the hole over a stand of trees on the 480-yard dogleg right par-5 fifth hole at Hope Country Club in Arkansas, USA.
Almost 30 years later in 1995, Shaun Lynch shot one by "cutting the corner" on the 496-yard 17th dogleg par-5 at Teign Valley Golf Club in Christow, England. Lynch took his chances and shot straight at the green with a 3-iron, clearing a 20-foot-high hedge and hitting a downslope on the other side, which allowed his ball to roll down to the green and into the hole.
A condor was scored without cutting over a dogleg by Mike Crean at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver, Colorado, in 2002, when he holed his drive at the 517 yard par-5 9th. This is the longest hole-in-one on record.
Another was shot in Australia by 16-year-old Jack Bartlett on the 467 yard par-5 17th at Royal Wentworth Falls Country Club, NSW, Australia, on November 3, 2007.
The most recent recorded condor was achieved on December 20, 2020 by Kevin Pon at Lake Chabot Golf Course in Oakland, CA on the 667 yard par-6 18th hole. This is the only recorded condor to have happened on a par-6.
A condor is so uncommon in golf that bookmakers don't even offer odds on such a feat.
So how did "condor" become a part of golf lingo? It's believed that the only explanation is a continuation of the 'bird' theme for under-par scores with the size of the bird getting bigger as the score gets lower, hence "birdie," "eagle," "albatross," "condor."