Sunday, October 31, 2010

What are your chances of making a hole in one?

A hole in one is considered an extraordinary accomplishment amongst golfers. It’s a precious achievement that some say requires a lot of skill and technique from the golfer. Tiger Woods had made two during his PGA career and 18 in his life. The first one when he was 6 years old. Annika Sorenstam, with 67 all-time victories has made 3. It’s often reported that the late great Ben Hogan never had a hole in one. While I agree it takes some skill, I believe it’s mostly luck. And how lucky can one get? What are the odds of your making a hole in one?I remember mine quite clearly. It was on hole 16 of the Eastridge Golf and Country Club. I teed up my pink precept ladies ball and hit it. At that time I had only been playing for two years and seven months. I would have been considered a beginner by most standards. I made a fairly decent swing, saw the ball go straight and land on the green and then slowly disappear. Of course I was in disbelief. But my heart was beating. Pounding even. My three golfing buddies Ernie, Ian and Benjie were shouting and laughing. I must have turned pale because I recall Ernie passing me his bottled water and saying, “drink some!”. We hurriedly got into the cart and drove to the green. There was no ball in sight. I kept thinking, “it’s in the cup, I got a hole in one, it’s in the cup…” I said this partly not to jinx anything, and mostly to convince myself I really did get a hole in one. I ran down the cart but slowly walked to the flag. So slow I could hear the beating of my heart. I bent over to check the cup and lo and behold there was my pink ball!
A hole in one! I remember i just kept just jumping up and down like i had won the lottery.
I was even luckier that i had the coolest golfing buddies who kept my proud moment alive by taking pictures as it happened. Like the whole event was meant to be. So what are the percentages of this happening? My darling father who is turning 80 years old soon and who has been playing golf for almost 40 years now has never had one. My husband Alex has had two holes in one. Then there are some golfers who go and finish their entire careers without ever having one. So I did a little bit of research and found out the following information:

In 1999, Golf Digest reported, “One insurance company puts a PGA Tour pro’s chances at 1 in 3,756 and an amateur’s at 1 in 12,750.” That same issue reported that the “odds of an amateur making two holes-in-one in a round are 9,222,500 to 1.” Golf Digest has provided “acer odds” since the 1950s, and in the year 2000 hired Francis Scheid, Ph.D., the retired chairman of the math department at Boston University, to calculate the odds using the latest and best information available. The odds Scheid came up with were: 5,000 to 1 for a “low-handicapper,” 12,000 to 1 for an “average player.” If you are a low-handicapper and play 1,000 rounds in your life, according to Scheid, you have a 20-percent chance of recording an ace. If you play 5,000 rounds, your odds are 1:1.
The Golf Digest study provided many great nuggets of information, even breaking the odds down by quality of play:

Tour player making an ace: 3,000 to 1

Low-handicapper making an ace: 5,000 to 1

Average player making an ace: 12,000 to 1

Some other highlights from Scheid’s calculations:
Average player acing a 200-yard hole: 150,000 to 1
Two players from the same foursome acing the same hole: 17 million to 1
One player making two holes-in-one in the same round: 67 million to 1
(Source: Primary source is Golf Digest; more info on acer odds and holes-in-one can be found in the Sept. 2005 issue.)

So keep on playing. If you are an average player there’s a 1 in 12,750 chance you could get a hole in one in your lifetime.
Ernie, Ian, Me and Benjie