“The most important shot in golf is the next one. - Professional golfer Ben Hogan (1912-1997)
Sinking a hole-in-one. It’s golf's Holy Grail. It's the sort of thing you will talk about for years. You will dine out over the tale of it with your golf buddies, and regale your workmates with anecdotes about its most intricate details.
At home, you will bore your significant other (unless they, too, are a golfer) with endless repetitions about the time that you dropped that dimpled little white ball into that grass-encircled cup with one perfect swing of your club.
Your Ace in the Hole
Golf is a game of etiquette. There are rules, codes of practice, and standards of behavior that have to be followed. And just like calling out “fore” and replacing the divots, sinking an ace (as some people call a hole-in-one) also has some associated codes of behavior.
Sure, you can be jubilant. Sure you can fist-pump like an NFL linebacker who's just scored a touchdown. You can high five your playing buddies. And you scan the fairway for other players who may have happened to notice that you just dropped a hole in one.
Mind Your Manners
Exuberance is all very well, but don't outstay your welcome. Don't forget that there are other players coming up the fairway. And they are not concentrating on your game; they’re concentrating on theirs.
They're only interested in your hole-in-one from a purely esoteric point of view in which they might score a free drink when they get back to the clubhouse.
Get One For the Gram
If it ain’t on social media, did it really happen? These days, you just have to have that pic for Facebook. And Instagram. And Snapchat…and so on!
So make sure that one of your playing buddies gets a photo of you plucking the ball from the cup and raising it in triumph like a conquering hero.
You could also pose beside the hole’s flag, with your favourite driver club, the one that will be remembered by posterity, in your hand.
This will look great on the Gram. Or on Facebook...and so on!
Oh, and don't forget to keep the ball.
In order for a hole-in-one to be counted, a number of rules have to be followed. These include:
But if, after all that, your hole-in-one is official, well...let the celebrations begin!
More Common Than You Think.
On average, throughout the golfing world, a hole-in-one is achieved every 3500 rounds. Statistically speaking, 57% of holes-in-ones are scored by people with middle-of-the-road handicaps. So, if you're only an average golfer, don't be put off. That elusive hole-in-one could be just around the corner on the next fairway.
Just like cricket, golf is a game of statistics. It's all about analyzing your score, comparing it with other players, and contrasting it with other players from golf's long and illustrious history.
Ever since the first golf ball was thwacked by a kilt-wearing Scotsman back in the 15th century, players have been trying to emulate the scores of the best players and striving to improve.
And there's nothing like a hole-in-one to bring your average up. But you have to stay focused.
Keep Your Head in the Game
There is a good chance that, having shot a hole-in-one early in the round, you will absolutely tank for the rest of the game.
The adrenaline of an ace can easily affect your game and keep you from playing at your best. It's often said that shooting a hole-in-one increases your chances of a career low score.
So stay on point. Keep your head in the game, and play your best golf for the rest of the round.
There have been many memorable holes-in-one, both professional and amateur, scored at tournaments, on televised events, and just on the local back nines of country courses all around the world.
The magazine Golf Digest has been keeping tabs on holes-in-one, along with other notable records, since the 1950s. Among the noteworthy aces that it has reported are:
- The Longest Yard. The longest ever hole-in-one achieved on a straightaway golf hole in America happened in 1965, on the 444 yard, 10th hole at Miracle Hill golf course in Omaha, Nebraska. The golfer, Bob Mitera, made national headlines with this shot.
- Here come the Brits. Mr Mitera’s record was surpassed in 1995 on a course in Teign Valley, England, when another golfer, Sean Lynch, sank a hole-in-one on a 496 yard, par 5 hole.
- The Olympian. The 1st hole-in-one shot during an Olympic Games occurred on August 11th, 2016 at the Rio Olympics. South African-born British golfer Justin Rose potted a hole-in-one on the 189 yard, par 3 hole using a 7-iron.
Let the Celebrations Commence
In Australia and New Zealand, when someone shoots a hole-in-one, it is customary for them to shout. And that doesn't just refer to shouting out at the top of your lungs in sheer delight.
A shout in Australasia is when you put on drinks: for your workmates, your colleagues, or your golf teammates. The phrase “your shout mate” is common parlance in New Zealand and Australia. And if it's your shout, you are obligated to comply.
In Britain, they say “your round, mate.” Same rules.
At the so-called Nineteenth Hole (ie the Bar) of a golf course, this rule is brought to its utmost iteration.
The traditional approach is to buy drinks for the entire bar. These days, however, you do have to consider that buying drinks for a whole lot of people can be extremely expensive.
It can take the shine off shooting a hole-in-one if it sends you bankrupt at the clubhouse.
Your significant other is probably not going to be too impressed if your hole-in-one blows the weekly budget.
A Costly Business
Aristocrats might have money to burn on lavish celebrations for a hole-in-one. For most people, however, buying drinks for their playing companions is about the limit of their capabilities.
Doing this will allow you to relive the moment without the pressure of worrying about how damn much it's going to cost. You might even like to extend your circle of followers to a few other buddies around the bar.
Take Out Insurance
A way to avoid leaving the golf course penniless after scoring a hole-in-one is to take out insurance. That’s right...hole-in-one insurance is actually a thing!
Some private clubs include this type of insurance as part of the monthly dues that their members pay. Most amateur clubs offer this as an option when you pay their green fees.
In Japan, where putting on the right “face” is vital in so many aspects of their culture, hole-in-one insurance is just part of the everyday expenses of playing golf.
In the Swing of It
Whatever the circumstances, and however you celebrate it, a hole-in-one is going to be one of the many highlights of your golfing career.
And you never know when that little dimpled ball is going to drop into that green-encircled cup with one perfect swing of your club.
Perhaps it will be on the next hole you play. As the American professional golfer Ben Hogan observed, the next shot on your round is the most important one.