Golf Eagle Meaning and Definition

Scoring an "eagle" in golf is not an easy thing to do. It is a score which is usually made by expert or professional golfers.

Scoring an "eagle" means to get the ball in the hole in 2 strokes under par for that golf hole.

Still interested to know more about what an eagle is and how you might score one? Let's dive in.

How many golf shots do you need to score an eagle?

We know that an eagle corresponds to getting the ball into the hole in 2 under the par of that hole. Therefore to score an eagle, you would need to have the ball in the hole in:

One stroke on a par-3 hole

This is normally called a hole in one and is extremely rare! Pretty much a miracle golf shot. 

Two strokes on a par-4 hole

Usually a result of a holed approach shot or chip in. In golf terms this is still pretty rare but can happen on shorter holes. 

Three strokes on a par-5 hole

Most eagles are made this way. Hit the ball off the tee, second shot hits the putting green, hole the putt. 

What shape is used for an Eagle on a scorecard?

Two concentric circles are used to represent an eagle on a scorecard or a PGA Tour overlay.

eagle on a scorecard two concentric circles

Where does the term eagle come from?

The basis of the term eagle is linked with the other ornithological golfing term “birdie.” An eagle is a big rare bird or "big birdie" and is thus considered to be less common and better version of a "birdie." It's one of many golfing terms which we need to learn. 

How rare is an eagle in golf?

I've been playing golf for 25 years and I've made a few eagles, but not very many. When you watch the PGA tour, you might be fooled into thinking that eagles are easy to make - this isn't the case, it's a rare occurrence.

Getting the ball onto the green in two strokes on a par 5 or one shot on a par 4 in extremely difficult and requires you to hit it the ball a very long way. For most golfers, it is a significant accomplishment to make a par or birdie on a given hole so don't be hard on yourself if you don't make an eagle!

Golfer making a golf swing

How do you make an eagle in golf?

As we have covered, making an eagle probably means you are an expert golfer or the golfing gods have been smiling on you on the golf course. For an average golfer, their best chance at an eagle might be a hole in one on a par 3 (which is still very rare). But don't give up, let's look at some ways you can maximise your chances of scoring an eagle.

Learn to hit the ball further

Making an eagle on a par 4 or 4 will most likely require you hit the ball over 250 yards with your tee shot. If the wind direction is in your favour and you can can take advantage of any natural terrain and fast fairways you might be able to do this without hitting the gym. In reality you need to have some strength to get the ball to travel that far. Get up on to that tee box and be prepared to rip it! 

Be confident with long irons and fairway woods

Do you know your carry distance with these clubs? To make an eagle you need to be hitting the green on a par 5 in two shots, so you need to know how far your long clubs are making the golf ball fly. On longer holes, your second shot will be landing at a flatter angle so you need to be aware of this as it makes holding the green a more difficult task.

Lower your expectations

An eagle is a very rare bird! Such a score is rare and if you go chasing eagles, you will be bringing bogey, double bogey and maybe even triple bogey into play. In scoring terms, a few birdies is probably more likely and healthier for your card than one eagle. Be patient and take your chances. 


Golfing terms can be a bit of a mine field for beginners. I hope this article has cleared up what an eagle is in golf!  The opposite of an eagle, in the over par category of 2 over par is a double bogey!

Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by Matt