What is a Condor in Golf?

Maybe you’ve been playing for years, or you’ve just started. It doesn’t really matter, because once you get into the sport and start learning, understanding, and exploring, you’re hooked.

There are few sports out there as complex and as hard to play like golf, and there are also few sports quite as judged by people. Often seen as an activity for the rich and bored, golf is anything but. A small glance at the difficulty of the game, and the incredible feats achieved by players is enough to understand why nothing really comes close to it.

If you’ve ever asked yourself “what is a condor in golf”, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s talk about Condors. What they are, how often do they happen, and how hard they are to achieve. In order to understand just how hard scoring a condor is, we first have to take a look at birdies, eagles, and albatrosses.

What is a Birdie? 

 

The term Birdie comes from the 19th century when it used to mean “cool” or “excellent”. It’s believed that this is where the term came from. It simply means a score of one-under-par.

There are also “birdie holes”. Pro golfers and commentators will sometimes refer to holes on the course as “birdie holes”, meaning that the yardage and layout of the hole make birdies more possible for experienced players. 

Let’s move on to even more challenging stuff, Eagles!

What is an Eagle? 

This one is all American! We’ve inserted our national bird into the golf glossary. Simply put, if a score of one under is a birdie, an even better score of two under is an eagle. Think of it like this, 3 strokes on a par 5 hole, or 2 strokes on a par 4 hole. They’re both eagles.

Statistically, most eagles take place on par 5 holes. That doesn’t mean that they’re common, though! In 2019, Sungjae Im had the most eagles among qualifying golfers in the TOUR Championship. He made 18 eagles over 2,124 holes (0.85% of holes).

While Sungjae Im had the most eagles in 2019, Martin Laird made the most eagles per hole played. Laird made 17 eagles in 1,440 holes (1.18% of holes).

And just like that, we’re moving off to albatrosses.

What is an Albatross?

An albatross is something that most of us non-professional golfers will probably never achieve. In order to score an albatross, you’d be looking at 3 strokes under par on a single hole. 

The National Hole in One Association, which tracks holes-in-one and sets odds for the feat, states that an albatross is less likely than an elusive hole-in-one.

The association sets a golfer's odds of making a hole-in-one at 12,700 to 1 or, for a professional, 3,700 to 1. The odds of achieving an albatross, meanwhile, are set at 6 million to 1.

The Elusive Condor

Now that we’ve taken a look at other feats of precision such as the birdie, eagle, and albatross, it’s time for the main attraction!

What does condor mean? Well, first of all, it’s a bird. But that’s not why you’re here.

In case you were wondering  “what does a condor mean in golf?”, just keep reading!

In order to score a condor, you need to score a hole in one on a par 5, or a 2 at par 6, the latter never happened until the 8th of December 2020. Kevin Pon, ages 54 at the time of the shot made a 2 on a par 6 at Lake Chabot Golf Course. He was playing the 667-yard par-6 18th hole. One of the few courses with par 6 holes in the country. He pounded a 540-yard drive and landed just 120 yards from the hole.

The first condor happened in 1962. 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.

Another condor was achieved by “cutting the corner” of a dogleg par-5 by Shaun Lynch at Teign Valley Golf Club in Christow, England, in 1995, on the 496-yard 17th. Lynch aimed 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.

To give you an idea of odds, it has been estimated a hole-in-one can reach up to 1 in 12,500 for an amateur player, while an albatross has been assigned odds that have ranged between 1 in 1 million and 1 in 16 million.

The odds of scoring a condor in golf have never been published. Presumably, because they’re too hard to calculate. 

Since the inception of the game, there have only been 5 condors recorded as of the writing of this article. We’ve covered the last and the first, what about the inbetweeners? 

Dick Hogan hit a 456-yard condor in 1973, on the 8th hole of Piedmont Crescent Golf Course in Burlington, N.C. 

Shaun Lynch hit another in 1995, on the 17th hole of Teign Valley Golf Club in Christow, England, from 496-yards.

Mike Crean hit a 517-yard, straight-on at the 9th hole at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club Denver, Coo., in 2002.

Jack Bartlett also hit a 513-yard at the 17th hole of Royal Wentworth Falls Country Club, in New South Wales, Australia, in 2007.

Final Thoughts

Chances are, not one of us will ever manage to mark the elusive condor on our cards. That’s okay. Chances are we won’t mark an albatross or an eagle either, that’s okay too. The chances are too slim, no matter how good you are. The important thing is to always try to play your best game. If it just so happens that the planets align, you’ll have a great story for the rest of your life, though!

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