About Golf Hole in One Records

By Jeff Gordon

Hole-in-one records come in all shapes and sizes. 
- Elsie McLean, 102, became the oldest person to hit one in 2007 at Bidwell Park in Chico, California.
- The longest straightaway hole in one had been 517 yards, struck by Bret Melson in 2002 at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver. The high altitude of Denver likely played a role, as thin air allows balls to stay in flight longer. 


According to HoleInOne.com, the average distance of its registered aces is 150.57 yards. The club used most often is a 7-iron.


Several registries keep hole-in-one records. The U.S. Golf Register is endorsed by the USGA, but the PGA of America has the most authoritative registry, requiring confirmation from a PGA professional at the facility.


- The First Ace: The first recorded hole in one came in 1868, struck by "Young" Tom Morris in the British Open.
- The Most Aces: Mancil Davis holds the record for the most aces by a professional with 51, while amateur Norman Manley claims 59 over a span of 30 years--though his verification is sketchy. "I've been called a liar many times," he once told "Sports Illustrated."
- Ace by Most Novice: In 1963, Bill Higginbotham said he hit an ace at Linton Municipal in Terre Haute, Indiana--on the first golf swing in his life. That record can be matched, but never broken.


While Davis' aces are well-documented, some records are not.
- The most extreme claim came from an employee at the Pyongyang, North Korea golf coure, who claimed that dictator Kim Jong-Il had 11 holes in one in his first attempt at golf.
- Californian Jacqueline Gagne claimed to hit 10 in less than four months and 16 in a year, but "Golf Digest" research cast doubt on her claim.
- In 2002, Mike Crean aced the 517-yard, par-5 ninth hole at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club near Denver. Or did he? The "Rocky Mountain News" reported that nobody actually saw the ball go in the hole after clearing the dogleg, and Crean himself had doubts.

Expert Insight

"No. 1, I aim at the hole," Mancil Davis told "USA Today." "You ask any golfer, 'What are you aiming at?' and they'll say, 'Hitting over the bunker,' or 'over the water' or 'Getting on a safe spot on the green.' Not one person says the hole, and I don't know if this makes sense. When you're hitting a 20-foot putt, you aim at the hole. Where's the magic distance where the mind doesn't aim at the hole? For some reason I carried this as a young player to 150 to 200 yards. I'm aiming at the target. I'm not trying to hit it 40 feet from the hole, which is probably why I didn't make it on the tour."


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