The Union Recorder

Local Sports

April 9, 2013

Double eagle: The golf term that makes no sense



What did Sarazen make on the 15th hole?

"That was a double eagle," John Senden of Australia said with a big smile.

Senden knows better. He used the American term in this interview "because I'm talking to you." He made an albatross on the par-5 second hole at the TPC Boston in the Deutsche Bank Championship a few years ago and his caddie — Grant Berry, who is English — was appalled when he saw the reference to "double eagle" the next day.

"Growing up it was always an albatross," Senden said. "I never knew it was anything different until I was maybe 15. I was watching an American telecast. You know what it was? I was watching the Masters and they were talking about Gene Sarazen and the double eagle."

The Masters is such a powerful force in golf that "double eagle" sadly has become ingrained in the golf vernacular in America. It reached a point that even Oosthuizen, who hails from South Africa, said after the final round last year that it was "my first double eagle ever." But then, that's how the question was posed to him.

Golf went to the birds long ago.

The phrase "birdie" comes from a conversation with Ab Smith, who was playing golf at the end of the 19th century with his brother and George Crump, who later built Pine Valley. They were playing the par-4 second hole at The Country Club in Atlantic City when Smith's second shot landed inches from the hole. He is reported to have said, "That was a bird of a shot," and thus referred to it as a birdie when he holed the putt for a 3.

The U.S. Golf Association says on its website that "eagle" became an extension of a score better than a birdie.

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