It’s In The Hole!

During the 20-year period from November 1998 through October 2017, Tiger Woods won 13 major championships, 73 PGA Tour events, was #1 ranked golfer in the world for over 12 years of elapsed time… and made 0 holes-in-one.

You read that right… not a single ace for the primo golfer on the planet during the two decades of his greatest glory.

The bottom line… no matter how good you are, it ain’t easy to make a hole-in-one.

Ask Bryson De Chambeau… the #8 ranked golfer in the world hugged everyone in sight when he aced #16 at Augusta National on Masters Sunday.  I thought the reaction was a little over the top… until I heard that it was the first hole-in-one he had ever made!

Ask Xander Schauffele… reports are that the #9 ranked golfer in the world has never made a hole-in-one.

Remember the old “best player never to have won a Major” debates?

Maybe we should have someone track “best player never to have made a hole-in-one”.

Just how rare is a hole-in-one? The conventional wisdom is that a hole-in-one is scored once every 12,500 shots on par 3 holes.

An individual golfer playing 50 rounds a year on courses with 4 par 3 holes would have to play for 62.5 years to accumulate 12,500 shots… golfers playing 20 rounds a year would take 156 years to reach the target number.  These sobering facts mean that most golfers will never  see one of their tee shots disappear into the hole.  So, if you’ve made one or more aces, count your blessings… you’ve beaten the odds.

Of course, in the deliciously ironic world of golf, every once in awhile we read a story about someone who scores an ace during their first round of golf.  Several years ago, I was hosting my annual college buddy golf outing at The Classic at Madden’s… one of the hardest golf courses you can find.  One of our once-a-year golfers who probably sports a handicap of 40+ struck hole-in-one gold on the 17thhole… we now refer to him as “Ace” Harada.  But then no one ever said life was fair.

If the 12,500 shots per hole-in-one estimate is accurate, a golf course that hosts ~30,000 rounds of golf a year and has 4 par 3 holes would average 10 holes-in-one a year.

The Minnesota Golf Association offers a neat service called “Perfect Shots” that allows Minnesota golfers to post holes-in-one and double eagles.  It is used religiously by golfers at certain courses but not at all at others.  In 2018, 500 holes-in-one were recorded at Perfect Shots but only a handful of courses posted double digit holes-in-one and about 60% of all courses didn’t record any.


Ok, all of this is interesting stuff, but so what?  What are we asking you as a course operator to think about this week?

What’s your strategy regarding holes-in-one?

Do you ignore them?  Celebrate them?  Publicize them?

Do you try to make a little coin off of them by selling fancy plaques or other memorabilia?

Most people who make a hole-in-one at your course have just had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  What should you be doing to make sure that when they excitedly tell their friends or post on social media that they put in a good word for how much fun it was to celebrate it at your course?

We’d love it if at least a few of you would post your thoughts on how to turn the holes-in-one at your course into a marketing coup… and we’d love it even more if this food for thought post inspires you to make some changes to get more value out of the aces that occur at your course.

Post your comments below.

(And… in case you’re wondering… my dirty little hole-in-one secret is that my one and only ace so far came when I was 16 years old on the SHORTEST hole on our local par 3 layout… a less than 100 yard one-bouncer.  Recently I’ve hit pins… shaved holes… stopped inches short… but ace #2 has been beyond my grasp so far.  Maybe this is the year.)



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