Wednesday, April 27, 2016

While an albatross can be bad luck to seafarers, it's a good thing for golfers

Gustave Doré's 'The Albatross' 
One day last week, Willene Whatley dropped by the office to give us an update on her grandson’s impressive golfing career, and she also introduced me to a golf term that I’d never heard of before.

Willene told me that her grandson Turk Pettit, who is a senior at Lee-Scott Academy, was playing a round of golf recently at a difficult course when he made a shot known as an “albatross.” The hole was a par five, and he put the ball in the cup in just two strokes. Me, being the non-golfer that I am, was unfamiliar with the term “albatross,” and I had to look it up.

As it turns out, an “albatross” is another term for what’s known as a “Double Eagle,” that is, making a shot in three under par on any single hole. The term is rarely used because most golfers never come close to making a double eagle or albatross. One source said that “an albatross golf score is so rare that it’s hardly ever seen on TV or in person, much less even heard about.”

I told Willene that the only time I’d ever heard about an albatross was in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” An albatross is a large sea bird, and killing one brings on extremely bad luck. In the poem, a sailor kills one of these birds, and dooms the ship, leaving him as the lone survivor.

As it turns out, all of this has a little to do with the golfing term. Because the albatross sea bird is extremely rare and because it’s known for flying extremely long periods of time without landing, golfers started calling a “Double Eagle” an albatross because they’re rare and you have to hit an extremely long drive for the shot to even be possible.

Many of you probably remember reading about Turk’s golfing exploits in earlier editions of The Courant. On Tuesday of last week, he was scheduled to depart to play in the Junior Invitational Golf Tournament in South Carolina. Golf Week recently named this invitation-only tournament as the most prestigious junior golf tournament in the world.

Turk is one of just 54 young golfers invited to the event, and he is the only golfer from the state of Alabama playing in the tournament. The field of participants not only comes from the 50 United States, but also from a number of foreign countries. Needless to say, this is a big deal for Turk and his family.

Turk was scheduled to begin play last Thursday and was to return home to Alabama on Saturday to begin playing Sunday and Monday in the AISA State Golf Tournament in Greenville. Everyone here at The Courant is wishing him good luck, and if his past performance is any indication, he looks to bring home even more hardware for his already-full trophy case.

I’m also sure that we haven’t heard the last from Turk where it comes to golf. He will be a college freshman next fall, and I predict that there are even bigger and better things down the road for him in the wide world of golf. It won’t be long, and we’ll be seeing him in the ranks of the world’s best professional golfers. That’s something that all of us, even non-golfers like myself, can look forward to.

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