What Are the Odds of the Average Golfer Hitting a Hole in One?

By Robert Preston
Hitting a hole-in-one is so difficult that some tournaments offer a free car for hitting one.
Hitting a hole-in-one is so difficult that some tournaments offer a free car for hitting one.

Hitting a tee shot and finding the bottom of the cup with your first swing is an accomplishment all golfers aspire to. While a hole-in-one is not a common occurrence, particularly for amateur players who typically do not have the pinpoint accuracy pros do, it is not an impossible goal, with hundreds made every day.

Holes in One

A hole-in-one is a rare feat the average amateur golfer will likely never achieve in their entire career. Golf Digest and the National Hole In One Association estimate that a tee shot hit by an amateur golfer on a par-3 goes into the hole one out of every 12,750 times. With such astronomical odds, it's even more amazing to read tales of players with two holes-in-one in a round or short period of time. On a course that features four par-3s, a player would make two holes-in-one in a round 1 out of 162,562,500 times, according to Golf Digest.

Second Ball "Aces"

In the course of a round, there are several instances where a player could tee off with two different balls on a hole and have the second ball go in. Whether a player has recorded a legal hole-in-one will come down to the circumstances. If the player is striking a second ball because their first might be lost, it's not a hole-in-one but a fairly impressive par counting the second shot and a penalty stroke. If a provisional ball goes in and the first ball is found, the second shot doesn't count. If a player hits a second ball into the hole because the first struck overhanging wires or broke into pieces on a cart path, then it is a legal hole-in-one.

Hole-in-One Tradition

With the odds of making a hole-in-one so astronomically high, it is not surprising that many players do a great deal of celebrating. The ball is usually not played for the rest of the round and is then used as a part of a plaque or trophy celebrating the event. If a camera is present, the player often has a photograph taken of him removing the ball from the hole. The first round of drinks at the 19th hole is customarily bought by the player who scored the ace.

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