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Hole In One Odds

Updated on October 2, 2012

The Odds Against A Hole In One Are High

photo by thepuzzler on Flickr
photo by thepuzzler on Flickr

Golf Skill Can Change The Odds Against A Hole In One

The origins of the modern game of golf can be traced to Scotland where, in 1457, King of Scots James II banned the game in the first written record concerning the sport of golf. It was considered a distraction from archery practice which young Scots where expected to take up. Ironically, after James II's kingship he had a burial at ruined Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is only minutes away from various golf courses including the Prestonfield Golf Club which is the closest golf course to Holyrood Abbey and his resting place. Despite this early attempt to ban the game, golf has taken off in practically every country with the USA leading the way with the most number of golf courses and representing about 50% of the total worldwide course distribution. Everyday millions of golf enthusiasts take to the tee to better their game and many are looking for that elusive hole in one. An ace that for many is a defining moment in their life which will always be remembered just like the birth of a child or marriage. It is a goal that many amateurs hope to obtain at least once in their life and a goal that even some pros may have to truly work at. So what are the true odds against a hole in one and what chance do you actually have of sinking the ball in the cup from the teeing ground? Scroll down to the chart below in BOLD to see the various odds against a hole in one shot.

Well like anything else, golf is filled with anecdotes of hole in ones that just had to be seen to be believed. Like fish tales there are guys who will claim that they once hit an errant drive that ricocheted off a tree then bounced off a sprinkler head before deflecting off a passing turtle's shell and into the cup for a hole in one. So it is even more rare and important that a hole in one is actually witnessed by others to validate such claims and that can increase the odds against a hole in one even more. But, many players will tell you that the sport of golf is built upon integrity and the individual. Rules vary between the different hole in one registration services as to the "recommended" witness requirements to count the hole in one as legit. Integrity is a good standard to live by and even the world's elites could take a few lessons in this opposite of hypocrisy. While United States President Obama has never recorded a hole in one he has played almost 80+ rounds of golf during his presidency tenure and he most recently got another round in at the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii during this holiday season. My calculator tells me that these figures mean that he has spent around 18% of his time on the golf course. Now is that truly change you can believe in? Is that what a President does when the nation is falling apart in so many ways? But the golf addiction is not just contained to current and past US Presidents. No, even the now-dead Hennessey-loving North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il was known to battle the odds against a hole in one on occasion at the luxurious 7,700-yard championship course near Pyongyang. It was just a normal day in the early 90s when then 52-year old Kim Jong-Il took on the golf course which was about as long as any ever played in PGA championship history and smashed it like it was the axis of evil itself. It was hist first time every wielding a golf club yet he scored 38 under with an amazing 11 hole in ones. Lest you think this score was fabricated by the leader, it should be noted that 17 bodyguards and state media witnessed the extraordinary feat. It must be some golf course are either Kim Jong-Il can drive a ball further than any pro ever though about since most golf course only have around 4 or so holes that could normally be candidates for a hole in one. He'd make an awesome hidden character on the PS3 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 video game as he somehow was omitted from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters edition. Despite Kim Jong-Il being dead, you can relive the fallen dictator's golf triumphs at the North Korean golf course outside of Pyongyang off of Taicheng Lake in the 2012 DPRK Amateur Golf Open. Reservations can be made with the Lupine Travel Agency for the historic event on May 15-22 2012. The tour price includes visa, train travel from China, hotels, elegant meals, tours, guides, tournament entry fee, golf club rental and a North Korean caddy.

So to correctly determine the odds against anyone not as superhuman as Kim Jong-Il making a hole in one it might be best to take a word of advice from a hole in one insurance company like US Hole in One. After all, their whole business model is based upon knowing the exact odds so they can afford to make the massive payouts during hole in one contest, putting contests, and $1,000,000 golf shootouts so it should be expected that they have a calculator that gives fairly accurate assessments:

Odd Against A Hole In One Shot

Odds Against An Amateur Golfer Making A Hole In One On Par 3 Hole: 12500 to 1

Odds Against A Pro Golfer Making A Hole In One On Par 3 Hole: 2500 to 1

Odds Of A Hole In One During PGA Tour Event With 144 Pros: 1 in 4.5

Odds Of A Hole In One During PGA Tour Event (144 Pros) 4-days: roughly 1 in 1

Odds Against Two Players Making A Hole In One On Same Hole: 32000 to 1

Odds Of Making Two Hole In Ones In One Round == 67 million to one as calculated by Golf Digest writer Francis Sheid (only 150 people have accomplished this / 2 on a modern PGA tour / one was a 12 year old girl named Naomi Lee!)

Certainly the odds against such a feat for the average player is sufficient that if you are lucky enough to get an ace then you might want to consider the Hole In One registration site to create a historic record and perhaps even buy a hole in one trophy or personalized hole in one plaque to save the moment and display the lucky golf ball forever. Amazon has some of the best prices for cheap or even higher end hole in one ball with scorecard displays. They make great gifts for a golfer in your life and if you know someone lucky enough to hit such a hole in one then they definitely deserve such an award.


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    • againsttheodds profile image

      againsttheodds 6 years ago

      Larry, You are right it should have read "roughly" 1 in 1. So it isn't a certainty as the odds against a hole in one are still there but it is a likelihood. The hole in one insurance site I referred to did not calculate it any further. But looking at the PGATour site, for example, in the 2011 PGA National Tour there were 26 events and 21 hole in ones. Nice golfing tip. Yeah golf is insanely mental.

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 6 years ago from Northern California

      Voted up.

      "Odds Of A Hole In One During PGA Tour Event (144 Pros) 4-days: 1 in 1"

      According to this stat, a HIO is a certainty during such an event. Are you sure about that?

      By the way, here's a underhanded way to 'psyche out' an opponent--whose skill level is slightly greater than yours--in this game of gentlemen.

      "I've heard that you're a pretty good golfer. Would you please show me how you position your thumbs?"

      Rationale. When we become sufficiently skilled at any sport, much of what we do is a matter of reflex. If you can get your opponent to think about his thumbs while playing, that will throw off his game. :-)