The First Double Eagle - Albatross
The first double eagle recorded in history was on September 15, 1870 when Tom Morris, Jr. carded a three on the par-6, 578 yard, 1st hole during the 10th British Open Championship being held at the Prestwick Golf Club. "Young Tom", as he was known, went on the win that Open Championship. It was his third victory in a row, from 1868 to 1870, and therefore the red morocco St. Andrews Champions Belt with the silver claps was his to keep. He was 19 years old. Tom's Belt, as it is called, is now in the keeping of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
In 1868, at the age of 17, Tom Jr. scored the first recorded hole-in-one, not just in the Open Championship, but in any tournament. He did it while competing at Prestwick on the par-3, 166 yards, 8th hole.
Although the first recorded double eagle or albatross was scored in 1870 "the spirit" of The Double Eagle Club was born in the 1930's during both casual and tournament play.
The second double eagle - albatross recorded in history was by Bobby Jones. He did it during the 1930 British Amateur, being contested on the Old Course, at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland. The double eagle 2 was on the 4th hole (then a par-5, now a par-4), when Bobby holed out with a very long shot from the fairway bunker named the "Cottage". He said it was one of the best shots of his life.
Jones went on to win that British Amateur along with the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur all in the same year. He is the only golfer, amateur or professional, to complete the Grand Slam of Golf.
In 1934, Jones founded the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. That same year the Masters was inaugurated. Over time amateur play became less common and the Masters replaced the U.S. Amateur. Today the Grand Slam of Golf is winning the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship all in the same calendar year.
On May 11, 1937, Bobby became the first golfer to have multiple double eagles and the first to score one in both tournament and casual play. He did this while playing a casual round at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. Jones holed his 3-wood for a 2 on the 556 yards 5th hole.
~ The Squire, Lord Byron, the Coach, and the Golden Bear ~
In the afternoon of April 7, 1935, the Squire, Gene Sarazen, accompanied by his Caddy "Stovepipe", came to the par-5, 485 yard, 15th tee at Augusta National Golf Club. He was trailing Craig Wood, who was finished with his final round and waiting in the Clubhouse with a score of 282, leading by 3 strokes. Gene was playing with Walter Hagen who shot 287 for the tournament.
Gene's drive off the tee went 250 yards and found the fairway. He had 235 yards to go to the pin on the green. There is a pond that seperates the fairway from the green that crosses directly in front making a "run up" to the pin impossible. After talking with Stovepipe, Gene selected his 4-wood for the extra loft it delivers for his second drive from the fairway.
He swung the 4-wood and struck a low line drive that delivered a shot that peaked 30 yards in the air. It was long enough to carry the pond guarding the green... bounced once and rolled to the cup... then gently hit the pin and fell in.
Gene Sarazen had scored a "double eagle" duce, three under par, to tie Craig Wood who waited in the Clubhouse...
Sportswriter, Grantland Rice, called it "the shot heard 'round the world". The second double eagle recorded during tournament play. Approximately 20 people witnessed the feat. One of them was Augusta National's founder, Bobby Jones.
Gene played Craig in a 36 hole playoff the next day and beat Wood by a score of 71-72-144 to 75-74-149 to win the Second Masters Tournament. It was the only 36 hole playoff in the history of the Masters.
On April 6, 1955, the Augusta National Golf Club dedicated "Sarazen's Bridge" just off to the left of the 15th green in honor of Gene's double eagle in 1935.
The Squire's was not the only double eagle in the 1930's. In fact, one year earlier in 1934, Byron Nelson, scored his during casual play. "Lord Byron" once recalled, "I've had one double eagle, and I remember it well. It was the 16th hole at the Texarkana Country Club, the last year I was the pro there. I was playing with Mrs Farr, whose husband was the president of the club. The hole was 575 yards downwind with no watered fairways. I hit it well, and I thought I'd get close to the green. The ball went out of sight in a little swale in front of the green, but then we saw it run onto the green and in the hole". Byron Nelson had eight aces and one double eagle during his career.
Byron too has a bridge in his honor at Augusta National Golf Club. "The Nelson Bridge" at the 13th tee was dedicated on April 2, 1958 to commemorate his spectacular play on holes 12 and 13, two of the three holes known as "Amen Corner". He scored 2 - 3 to pick up six strokes on Ralph Guldahl and won the 1937 Masters Tournament.
There was one more "albatross". the name used in Europe for a double eagle, scored in the 1930's. On June 26, 1939, a young man playing 18 holes at Erskine Park Golf Course, in South Bend, Indiana, scored a double eagle and a hole-in-one during the same round of golf. His hole-in-one was on the par-3, 149 yard, 6th hole and his double eagle came on the par-5, 505 yard, 16th hole. He was good enough to play with the best of them. He chose to become an educator and a coach. The world knows him as Coach John R. Wooden of UCLA Championship basketball fame. Coach Wooden made an ace and tossed in a double eagle for good measure!
The Golden Bear
Jack Nicklaus... need anyone say more? When Jack was a young man, in his teen's, in the early 1950's he scored the first of his three double eagles. It was during casual play at his home golf course, Scioto Country Club, on the 516 yard, par-5, 8th hole. Jack used a driver and a 3-wood to "bag his bird". He said, "at the time the 8th did not have water in the front and you could run it up there... othewise, I probably would not have reached it".
Jack's first professional double eagle was in the 1966 Greater Jacksonville Open at the Selva Marina Country Club. It came in the fourth round on the 492 yard, par-5, 18th hole. He used his drive off the tee and his 4-iron from 208 yards. It was a high shot that landed 15 feet in front of the pin... hopped once... then the ball ran up to the hole and dropped in. A bronze plaque has been placed at the spot where Jack hit his 4-iron. The Greater Jacksonville Open is now known as The Players Championship.
Jack's third "albatross" came during The Tradition, one of the Majors on the Champions Tour. It was scored at the Desert Mountain Golf Club, Cochise Course, in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 7, 1996. Exactly 61 years after fellow Club member Gene Sarazen scored his. It happened during the third round on the 500 yard, par-5, 12th hole. He drove the ball 341 yards off the tee. From 159 yards out he hit his 8-iron into the cup. Jack had scored his third and final double eagle to go on to win his 100th professional title. Of the accomplishment Jack simply said, "pretty good aim". A commemorative plaque has been placed on the side of the fairway where he hit his famous 8-iron.
~ Two Ladies... Marie Roke and Cornelia McKimmon Trott ~
During the summer of 1949, while playing a casual round, Maria Roke became the first woman in recorded history to score a hole-in-one on a par-4 for a double eagle. She did it on the 393 yards 1st hole at the Furnace Brook Golf Club in Quincy, Massachusetts. The hole plays downhill, so after a wonderful drive off the tee, Maria got the benefit of her ball rolling all the way to the green and into the cup.
On Noverber 4, 1953, Cornelia McKimmon Trott became the first woman to score a double eagle in tournament play. This occured while competing in the Tarheel Womens Golf Association Championship at the Highland Country Club in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It took place on the par-5, 456 yards, 18th hole. Her drive off the tee was 276 yards. She used a 2-iron from 180 yards out to finish her very rare achievement. Cornelia won the event for the third time. As a result, the Tarheel Womens Golf Association permanently retired the large silver punch bowl award which otherwise would be retained for one year. It remains in the possession of her family at this imeA hobby... a passion... a dream come true!
A hobby.. a passion... a dream come true!
In 1984, Club founder Michael Christensen, started the hobby of tracking double eagles. Over time his casual hobby grew into a passion. Acting upon his passion, in 1993, he contacted the PGA Tour for statistics and information surrounding the double eagles scored by professional golfers on their Tour. Ms. Helen Ross, now the Chief of Correspondence for the PGA Tour, was most helpful in supplying him with all the infomation they had.
He then went to the Ralph W. Miller Golf Library and Museum, located at the Sheraton Hotel, in the City of Industry, CA, every Saturday morning for several weeks in a row. There he found spotty information about golfers who had scored double eagle's during tournament play. The lovely staff, the "Widows of Golfers", that volunteer their services to the library, were most helpful in aiding his research and also they directed him to Ms. Jane LaMarsche, Golf Historian for Golf World and Golf Digest magazines. Ms. Jane, a true Southern Belle from North Caroline, was very insightful and aided Michael in his research work. He has often said, "I will ever be in her debt... what a jewel she was to me. I miss her". Jane contracted cancer and lost her valiant battle leaving behind many friends and her dear mother.
Because of her association with the golf magazines Jane referred Michael to Ms. Topsy Siderof, Associate Editor of Golf Digest magazine. After a very educational phone conversation with Topsy he began contacting the "Tours" of the world.
From initial contacts with the Tours he began to receive letters and faxes with the requested information regarding the players, their double eagles or albatrosses, and the limited stats surrounding them.
Michael then started contacting the players via thier agents, tours or directly through the mail. An experience he said he will never forget! After the original contacting and verfying process had finished for the first group of golfers Michael organized and formed The Double Eagle Golf Club on March 1, 1997 with 57 members and Gene Sarazen serving as the first Club President.
There are now 1,704 registered members... and counting. Stay tuned!