What Are the Odds of a Hole in One?

By Jennifer Gregory

Par-3 protected by sand and water
For many golfers, recording 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 at 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 every hole-in-one is reported and some that are reported may not have actually occured.

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 their hole-in-one
  • Golf clubs typically keep a record of all hole-in-ones made on their course

History

Mancil Davis is often called the "King of Aces" and is regarded as the professional record holder for most hole-in-ones with an official total of 51. 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, making 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 making 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.