It’s every golfer’s dream: that seemingly elusive hole-in-one. You often hear the stories of mates and the pros, of course, scoring their ace, so why not you? Truly, what does it take – physics, skill, or just pure dumb luck? Let’s see what your chances are…
In the recent US Masters Par-3 Contest in Augusta, there were a record number of holes-in-one – nine in total – including one from retired South African professional golfer Gary Player, who’s 80 years old! This makes him the oldest player to get an ace in the competition. In the history of this contest, there have now been 89 holes in one.
So, what are your odds?
According to the National Hole-In-One Association (yes, there is such an organisation – more about that later), a hole-in-one may be tough to get, but it does happen more often than you would think.
On a par-3 hole, an amateur golfer has a 1 in 12,500 chance of scoring a hole-in-one. Therefore, if your local golf tournament has 100 amateurs who are playing on a course with four par-3 holes, then the odds of someone getting a hole-in-one is 1 in 32. Not bad, eh? So maybe you have a chance after all.
If you’re a pro, then these odds drop significantly to 1 in 2500, which is probably why we’ve been seeing a few at the Masters. Watch South African pro Louis Oosthuizen’s incredible hole-in-one at the 2016 US Masters, below.
In case you’re wondering about the National Hole-In-One Association, it offers Hole-In-One Insurance. So, who takes it out you ask? Well, it’s usually the people who hold a charity or corporate Golf Day so they can protect themselves against the financial risks associated with offering a highly valuable grand prize. For example, the local Rotary Club might hold a Golf Day offering whoever gets a hole-in-one a brand new car – they might do this to try and increase the number of competitors who register to play. And so if someone gets a hole in one, the insurance company will pay the cost of the prize.
- 45% of holes-in-one are hit with a Titleist ball.
- Amateur Norman Manley currently holds the record for most holes-in-one with 59, including two successive holes-in-one on par-4s in 1964 at Del Valle Country Club in Saugus, California – a rare feat indeed.
- Tiger Woods was eight years old when he hit his first hole in one at a local course in California. ‘The guys in my group were 17 and I was eight’, he recalls. ‘They were tall and could see it. “You just made a hole-in-one!” I was like, “What?” They picked me up, held me up, to show me that the ball was not there. So, I ran to the green to check and see if it was my ball. And the ball was in the hole. And those guys said: “Go back and get your clubs”.’ Tiger has had 19 aces overall.
- 60% of golfers are over the age of 50 when they hit a hole-in-one.
- The longest straight hole-in-one was made by Bret Melson, a student at the San Diego Golf Academy Hawaii Campus, in 2007. He aced the 410-metre (448-yard), par-4 18th hole at the Ko’olau Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii. ‘I think every golfer dreams of acing a hole at least once in his or her lifetime, but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about acing that particular par-4,’ he said.
- The youngest golfer to score a hole-in-one was little three-year-old Jack Paine. He got lucky in 2001 at Lake Forest Golf and Practice Course, California. It was a distance of 60 metres (66 yards), but some record keepers only admit holes-in-one on holes that are equal to or more than 91 metres (100 yards) in length.
- The oldest golfer to ever make a hole-in-one was a 102-year-old woman in 2007, and it was her first. Elsie McLean drove 91 metres (100 yards) into the hole at Bidwell Park in Chico, California. She was heard saying: ‘For an old lady, I still hit the ball pretty good.’
- If you hit a hole-in-one in America or Australia you’re expected to buy everyone a drink at the clubhouse afterwards. But, in Japan, it’s traditional to share your good fortune by buying your playing partners expensive gifts.
As Gary Player (who incidentally has scored 31 holes-in-one during his lifetime) once said: ‘The more I practice, the luckier I get.’
May you get very lucky next time you hit the course. And may you have at least one mate see you do it!
So are you part of the hole-in-one club? When did you do it, and where? And how did you celebrate? Share your victory in the comments section below.