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.

Photo Credits

  • Brian Bahr/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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