Hole in One Odds, Obligations and Mind-Blowing Records

, GolfLink Editor
Updated April 20, 2023
Golfers celebrating hole in one
    Golfers celebrating hole in one
    Getty Image License

A hole-in-one happens when a golfer’s tee shot finds its way into the bottom of the hole, and the golfer gets to write a “1” down on the scorecard. A hole-in-one is often referred to as an “Ace” and whether you’re a tour professional or a first-time golfer, you’ve got a chance at making one.

Odds of Making a Hole in One

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 one single organization charged with collecting the data, it is almost impossible to calculate the odds with complete accuracy. It’s also possible that not every hole-in-one is reported, and some that are reported may not be valid.


Obligations After Making a Hole in One

As such an elusive achievement, a hole-in-one must meet certain criteria 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 they made the hole in one
  • The player must be playing at least nine holes when they made the hole-in-one

If you make a hole-in-one, you’ve got some obligations to fulfill afterward. Here’s what you should do after making a hole-in-one.

Buy a Round of Drinks

It’s customary to buy a round of drinks after making an ace. Depending on when and where you make your hole-in-one, this tradition could get pretty pricey, or you could get off relatively unscathed. Either way, try not to dodge this obligation.


Register Your Hole in One

Register your Hole-in-One to guarantee your feat is recorded in the history books. You can find several hole-in-one registries to document your achievement.

Notify the Brand(s) of Equipment You Used

When you make a hole-in-one, it’s an accomplishment for you, and for the equipment companies who engineered the clubs and balls you used. Depending on the manufacturer, you might get a nice congratulatory gift bag if you notify the companies who made the equipment you used. 

Here are a few you can notify:

If the manufacturer of the equipment you used for your hole-in-one is not listed here, check their web site for instructions on how to notify them of your ace.


Commemorate the Shot

The most common hole-in-one memorabilia is to display the ball used to make the amazing shot. There are a variety of options available for displaying the ball, including the simple glass case. In addition, ornate ball holders can also provide a unique trophy to place upon the mantle.

Scorecards are also popularly kept as proof of the hole-in-one. These can be displayed in simple glass frames, or in personalized plaques. These can also be placed next to the winning ball as a great way to emphasize the achievement. Sometimes the tee is also kept and placed with the ball and scorecard inside the display case.

Most Country Clubs give their own awards for a hole-in-one on their home course for members. This often takes the form of a commemorative plaque and official certificates.


Hole in One Records

A hole-in-one is an accomplishment in itself, but owning a hole-in-one record is downright braggadocious. From the alleged 517-yard double-albatross to golfers who have collected more aces than a Vegas casino, here are golf’s most impressive hole-in-one records.

Longest Hole-in-One

On July 4, 2002, Michael Crean aced the 517-yard par-5 ninth hole at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver for an ultra-rare condor. According to the University of Denver Magazine, Crean had some factors working in his favor, including a 30-mile per hour tailwind and dry, hard conditions, not to mention Denver’s 5,280 altitude, which provides less resistance to objects in flight.

Crean himself seemed to be in literal disbelief of the ace. Of course, from 517 yards away, it’s impossible to see the ball drop into the 4.25-inch cup. He did, however, have a clear view of the green, and can eliminate the theory of another golfer on the course moving the ball into the hole.

“I can’t prove it, I can’t disprove it, but my ball was in the hole,” he said in the University of Denver Magazine article.


Oldest Player to Record a Hole-in-One

Elsie McLean, 102, became the oldest person to record a hole-in-one in 2007 at Bidwell Park in Chico, California.

Most Novice Hole-in-One

In 1963, Bill Higginbotham claims to have hit an ace at Linton Municipal in Terre Haute, Indiana, on the first golf swing of his life. If true, that record could be matched, but never broken.

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," Manley once told "Sports Illustrated.”


Ace Spree

Nick Sica holds the record for most hole-in-ones in 30 days, carding four aces during an unbelievable stretch in 2013. Sica aced the 16th hole at Sunnehanna CC on Sept. 8, then used his gap wedge to record three more aces in the next four weeks, doing so in the New Castle CC seventh hole on September 11 and the same course’s 13th hole on September 13 and again on October 3.

Hole in One Facts and Figures

According to HoleInOne.com, the average distance of its registered aces is 150.1 yards and the club used most often is a 7-iron. If you want to stack the odds of an ace in your favor, take a “sick day” on Friday, the most common day for an ace to occur, and use a Titleist ball, which is used in 45% of all aces, and has more than triple the number of aces recorded on holeinone.com than the next competitor, Callaway.

The average age of players recording an ace on holeinone.com is 45.9 years old, and those golfers have been playing for an average of 18.1 years.

If you’ve been playing for more than 18 years and are still waiting for your first hole-in-one, just remember, the odds of making an ace are just 1-in-12,500. Those odds improve to 1-in-2,500 for PGA Tour players, who are five times more likely to make an ace than the average recreational golfer.


Cherish Your Ace!

A hole-in-one represents the pinnacle of achievement in golf. Simply put, it would be crazy not to commemorate this achievement. In addition, as you age, the mementos of your playing days will take on even more significance. They also serve as a simple and easy conversation starter when entertaining guests, as everyone understands the rarity of hitting a hole-in-one. Lastly, these items will serve as heirlooms to be passed to children as a way to remember the activities that their parents loved.