What Are the Odds of Hitting a Hole in One?

By Jennifer Gregory

For many golfers, hitting a hole in one is a lifelong goal. Though often talked about amongst golfers, from the professional to the beginner, a hole in one is actually quite rare. Golfers may wonder about their odds of hitting a hole in one.
 

Odds Based on Skill

Many golf tournaments offer special prizes for hole-in-ones. These high-end prizes are backed up by insurance companies. Such specialists have put the odds of a PGA tour player making a hole in one were 2,500-to-1, and an average player at 12,500-to-1 odds.

Because there isn't a single organization charged with collecting the data, it is almost impossible to calculate the odds with complete accuracy. In addition, not all holes in one are reported and some holes in one that are reported did not actually occur.

Rules for Hole in One

For a hole in one to be official:
- A person other than the player must witness the shot.
- The player must be playing only one ball during the round that he shot the hole in one.
- The player must be playing a round of at least nine holes when he shot the hole-in-one.

Hole in One Recording

There are several lists of players who have achieved a hole in one:
- The USGA maintains a registry of those who achieve a hole in one.
- Local golf associations often keep a list.
- The United States Golf Register has a website where individual golfers can register holes in one.
- Golf clubs typically keep a record of all holes in one made on their course.

History

Mancil Davis is often called the "King of Aces" and is regarded as the professional record holder for most holes in one with an official total of 51 hole-in-ones. In April 2007, Elsie McLean, at age 102, became the oldest person on record to get a hole in one. She made the historic shot at Bidwell Park.

Significance

To a player, hitting a hole in one is a significant event and often results in buying the clubhouse a round of drinks—an expensive tradition for which many private golf club members carry insurance. The odds of hitting a hole in one are significant because it reflects what a unique accomplishment it is. Because large prizes such as automobiles are often used a prizes for a hole in one during a tournament, the odds can also take a practical significance for tournament organizers.

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