Achieving the Impossible: Scoring 4 Under Par on a Single Hole in Golf

Colin McCarthy

4 under par on a single hole-in golf

Imagine the exhilaration of sinking a ball in the cup four strokes under par on a single hole. Known as a condor, this astonishing feat is the rarest of all golf achievements, with only five recorded instances as of January 2021.

Achieving a condor requires not only exceptional skill and power but also a significant dose of luck. In golf, a hole-in-one is already a remarkable accomplishment, typically occurring on par 3 holes, the shortest on the course.

However, a condor elevates this to an almost mythical level, often involving a hole-in-one on a par 5.

While most par 4 and par 5 holes are too lengthy for a single shot, these rare occurrences captivate the imagination of golfers and fans alike.

Understanding Golf Scoring Terms

Understanding golf scoring terms is essential for players to track their performance accurately.

Here are some key terms:

Overview of Par, Birdies, and Eagles

Par represents the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to complete a hole or course. For example, a par-3 hole means an expert is expected to sink the ball in three strokes.

A birdie is one stroke under par. For instance, completing a par-4 hole in three strokes qualifies as a birdie. This term signifies that a golfer has performed above the standard.

An eagle refers to a score of two strokes under par. For example, finishing a par-5 hole in three strokes is known as an eagle. Eagles are relatively rare and indicate exceptional play.

Albatross and Condor: Golf’s Rarest Scores

An albatross, or double eagle, is a score of three strokes under par. For example, completing a par-5 hole in two strokes counts as an albatross. This score is extremely rare and celebrated in the golfing community.

A condor is four strokes under par, the rarest score in golf. For instance, achieving a hole-in-one on a par-5 hole is a condor. As of May 2023, only five condors have been recorded, making it a legendary feat. These rare occurrences often involve extraordinary skill and favorable playing conditions, such as thin air at high altitudes.

Scoring 4 Under Par: The Condor

The “condor” in golf is an extremely rare feat, often referred to as a “hole-in-four.” It occurs when a player scores four strokes under par on a single hole.

This typically happens on a par 5 hole with a combination of an exceptionally long drive, followed by a hole-in-one on the second shot.

How Rare Is a Condor in Golf?

A condor, a score of four strokes under par on a single hole, stands as the rarest achievement in golf. The first documented condor was by Larry Bruce in 1962.

Only five have been recorded as of May 2023. Achieving a condor typically requires a hole-in-one on a par-5 or an exceptionally rare par-6.

These scores are so uncommon that most golfers will never witness one in their lifetime, much less achieve one themselves.

  • Larry Bruce (1962): Bruce recorded the first known condor.
  • Dick Hogan (1973): Hogan, another condor achiever.
  • Shaun Lynch (1995): Using a 3-iron club, Lynch achieved his condor on a horseshoe-shaped par-5 at Teign Valley Golf Club.
  • Mike Crean (2002): Crean’s condor was reportedly aided by the thin air in Denver, allowing a 517-yard drive.
  • Jack Bartlett (2007): Noted for joining the exclusive club of condor achievers.
  • Kevin Pon (2020): Pon made headlines with a two-stroke shot on the 667-yard 18th hole at Lake Chabot Golf Course in Oakland, California, marking a remarkable achievement on a rare par-6 hole.

The Significance of a Hole’s Design

The design of a golf hole holds significant importance in the overall experience and challenge of the game.

Several factors contribute to the significance of a hole’s design:

Key Factors That Influence Scoring

Scoring on a golf hole depends on various factors. Distance is a primary determinant; longer holes typically require more strokes to complete. Par 3 holes average 151-250 yards, par 4 holes range from 251-470 yards, and par 5 holes extend 471 yards or more.

Elevation changes can affect how far the ball travels. Uphill shots may require more club, while downhill shots often need less.

Obstacles such as bunkers, water hazards, and trees can challenge a golfer. Strategically placed hazards demand precision to avoid penalties.

Wind conditions also play a significant role. Strong winds can alter the ball’s trajectory, complicating shot selection and execution.

The Role of Course Difficulty

Course difficulty impacts scoring by presenting additional challenges. The United States Golf Association (USGA) uses a rating system to quantify course difficulty, considering factors beyond just distance.

Green complexity affects putting. Greens with intricate slopes and varying speeds make it harder to sink putts, increasing the overall score.

Fairway width influences driving accuracy. Narrow fairways require precise shots, while wider ones offer more forgiveness.

Rough and hazards heighten difficulty. Thick rough or multiple hazards near the fairway can significantly affect a player’s score if navigating them poorly.

Strategic hole placements force players to think critically. Well-placed holes require careful planning and shot execution, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the game.

Golf Rules and the Player

Golf rules govern the conduct of players and ensure fair play and sportsmanship throughout the game. Understanding and adhering to these rules are essential for all golfers.

Here are some key aspects of golf rules concerning the player:

Golfers follow specific rules to ensure fair play and accurate scoring. The United States Golf Association (USGA) outlines these rules.

Players must complete each hole in a set number of strokes, known as a par, which varies by hole length and difficulty. Scoring four under par, or achieving a condor, is exceptionally rare.

Players record their scores on a scorecard, and accuracy is crucial. An incorrect score can lead to penalties or disqualification.

Golf courses use a course rating system to assess difficulty, which influences a player’s handicap. This rating considers various factors such as yardage, elevation, and hazards.

Impact of Golf Etiquette on Play

Proper golf etiquette impacts game flow and player experience. Players should maintain a steady pace to avoid delays. Repairing divots, raking bunkers, and marking balls correctly ensures the course remains in good condition for others.

Silence and stillness when others are hitting, along with prompt play, improve concentration and reduce distractions. Following etiquette fosters respect among competitors, enhancing the overall enjoyment of the game.

Adhering to these standards also reflects positively on a player’s character and sportsmanship, essential aspects of golf culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a condor in golf?

A condor is an extremely rare golf achievement where a player scores four strokes under par on a single hole. It typically involves holing a par 5 in one stroke or a par 6 in two strokes.

Why is following USGA rules important in golf?

Adhering to USGA rules ensures accurate scoring and fair play in golf. It maintains the integrity of the game, providing a standardized framework that all players are expected to follow, enhancing the sport’s credibility and competitive fairness.

Why is maintaining pace important in golf?

Maintaining pace is crucial for ensuring a smooth flow of the game, preventing delays and improving the overall experience for all players on the course. It reflects a player’s respect for fellow competitors and the game itself.

What constitutes proper golf etiquette?

Proper golf etiquette includes actions such as fixing divots, raking bunkers, respecting other players’ space and turns, maintaining pace, and avoiding distractions during others’ shots. Adhering to these practices fosters enjoyment and sportsmanship on the course.


Scoring a condor is a testament to a golfer’s exceptional skill and understanding of the game. While rare, this achievement is influenced by factors like hole design and course difficulty.

Adhering to USGA rules and maintaining proper etiquette ensures a fair and enjoyable experience for all players.

Respecting these principles not only upholds the integrity of the game but also enhances the overall experience, showcasing a player’s character and sportsmanship.

Furthermore, witnessing or achieving a condor can be an inspiring moment, motivating other golfers to continuously refine their skills. Golf courses celebrating such feats often become historical landmarks.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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