Lake County, IL is home to a population of 703,462 residents (2010 Census). There are 7 cities in Lake County; it also has 46 villages, 9 census designated places, and 20 unincorporated communities. Lake County is home to 104 lakes, five museums, Six Flags Great America Amusement Park, and the Great Lakes Naval Training Center; and according to the Lake County CVB, there are 46 golf courses in Lake County.
But a case could be made that, in addition to all of the features listed above, Lake County could be called the ‘home of the albatross’, as three of golf’s most impressive double-eagles have connections to Lake County, IL.
The rarest shot in golf is the ‘double-eagle’ or ‘albatross‘. These two terms are interchangeable as they mean the same thing: a score of three-under-par on any single hole. A golfer can only achieve this on par-4 or par-5 hole.
On a par-5 hole a double eagle or albatross is made by holing out on the second shot from anywhere through the green; on a par-4 hole it is a hole-in-one. The term ‘albatross’ originated in Scotland.
Captivated by the rarity of this score in golf, Michael Christiansen of Folsum, CA created the “Double-Eagle Club”, dedicated to recording and honoring all golfers who have successfully scored three under par on one hole; the Club was founded on March 1, 1997. According to Mr. Christiansen’s research, throughout the entire history of the game of golf there have been a total of 1359 double-eagles scored.
There have been 626 double-eagles made during tournament play, 220 by amateurs and 406 by professionals. Another 733 double-eagles have been scored during casual play, 25 by professionals and 708 by amateurs.
Out of the total of 1359 double-eagles, there is a group of those that are considered exceptional above the rest, and in this group there are three ‘albatrosses’ that have a connection to Lake County, IL.
A native of San Antonio, TX, Bill Erfurth came to the IL Section PGA to work at Oak Park County Club in River Forest. Erfurth moved on to the position of PGA Head Golf Professional at Skokie Country Club where he remained for 20 years during the period of 1965-1985. Bill then went on to give golf instruction at Pine Meadow in Mundelein.
Among his achievements, Bill was named IPGA player of the year in 1968; he won the Illinois Open in 1975, and was later inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2007. But another of Erfurth’s great golf accomplishments is the fact that Bill is the oldest person ever to have made an albatross. On January 12, 2012, Bill scored a double eagle while competing in the PGA Stroke Play Championship. At the time, he was 82 years old.
The albatross came during the 3rd round on the Wanamaker Course, at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie. Erfurth scored a ‘2’ on the par-5, 460-yard, 16th hole. Bill won the 80 to 84 year old division of that tournament. He shot his age all three days with 79 – 72 – 75 for a final score of 226. Bill is not only the oldest golfer to have scored a double eagle, he did it during tournament play, and went on to win that competition.
The second oldest golfer ever to score an albatross is Mike Perez of Round Lake, IL. Mr. Perez made his double-eagle on July 1, 2011, while playing a casual round at Renwood Golf Course, Round Lake Beach, IL. His single-shot albatross occurred on hole #3, a par-4; Mike was 74 years of age at the time; presently, Mr. Perez is a golf course manager and golf instructor at Grayslake Golf Course. He is a USGTF Hall of Fame inductee and past USGTF Professional of the Year (2008).
Although best known for shooting the remarkable score of 59 in a PGA Tour event, Chip Beck has many additional accomplishments at the highest levels of professional golf, including an albatross. A resident of Lake Forest, IL, Chip shot his famous ’59’ on the Sunrise Golf Club during the 3rd round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational — just the second time a sub-60 score had ever been made in PGA Tour history. Chip played his most successful golf during the years between 1988 and 1992, when he won four tournaments on the PGA Tour: Los Angeles Open (1988); USF&G Classic (1988); Buick Open (1990); and, Freeport-McMoRan Golf Classic (1992).
Chip won the Vardon Trophy in 1988 and was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1989, 1991, and 1993. Chip’s fantastic double-eagle was also a single-shot, hole-in-one which occurred at the par-4 9th hole in the first round of the 2003 Omaha Classic, a Nationwide Tour event. It was the first in Nationwide Tour’s history and second recorded in the history of the PGA Tour umbrella combined (Andrew Magee, 2001 Phoenix Open).
Dozens more unusual and interesting facts (first, longest, youngest, most, etc.) about double-eagles can be found under the FAQ tab at http://www.doubleeagleclub.org/index.php?suffix=FAQs.