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Golf Stats: Aces by the Numbers

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Achieving a hole-in-one in golf is an exciting and rare feat that all golfers dream of. It is considered a testament to one’s skill and a little luck. As we begin our “Golf By the Numbers” series, we will explore the fascinating statistics surrounding this remarkable accomplishment. We will explore its frequency and the stories of those fortunate enough to have achieved it, taking you on a journey through the captivating world of golf’s most elusive achievement.

The Odds are Stacked

  • Mid-High Handicap Amateurs: Brace yourselves! Your odds sit at a whopping 12,500 to 1.
  • Low Handicappers: 5,000 to 1.
  • Professionals: With refined skills, your odds improve but remain a challenging 3,000 to 1.
  • Two players from the same foursome acing the same hole: 17 million to 1.
  • Fancy two in a single round? That’s a 67 million to 1 shot. Frank Costanza would take those odds!
  • Seasonal: More aces take place in the summer months, so aim for August for the best odds, and maybe not December, the least frequent month – plan your golf trips accordingly!
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Major Accomplishments

Golf majors usually deliver some dramatic moments – but how many ace’s have been recorded?

  • US Open: 47 documented holes-in-one since the commencement of the US Open in 1895. Eight alone at Pebble Beach, 6 at Baltursol, and an unthinkable 4 in one day in 1989 at Oak Hill’s 6th hole.
  • Masters: 34 aces have been recorded on Augusta National’s Par 3s during the Masters Tournament (5 by amateurs) and a ridiculous number in the Wednesday Par 3. Here is the breakdown – the 4th has seen just 1, the 6th has 5, the famous 12th has only been aced 3 times during tournament play, and the 16th has surrendered 25. Ireland’s Séamus Power became just the 3rd player to record aces back-to-back (IYKYK) in the Masters’ par 3 contest in 2023, joining Claude Harmon (1968) and Toshi Izawa (2002). 
  • PGA Championship: 48 holes-in-one have occurred in PGA Championship history, 29 in the last 40 years. The most recent was Michael Block, who capped a storybook PGA Championship ending. Block used a TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC 7-iron from 2014 to make the hole-in-one, which gained so much popularity that Block received a $50,000 offer for the club and interest from numerous museums and galleries.
  • Open Championship: The 1st recorded hole-in-one in Championship golf occurred at The Open in 1869 when “Young” Tom Morris aced the 166-yard 8th at Prestwick. 71-year-old Gene Sarazen aced the Postage Stamp (8th) at Troon in 1973, 50 years after his first appearance. Although the number of aces in Open history is in question due to its longevity, we have had 28 in the last 40 years.
  • Ryder Cup: Considering all of the excitement and dramatic moments that the Ryder Cup has produced, we have seen only 6 aces – Peter Butler (1973), Nick Faldo (1993), Costantino Rocca (1995), Howard Clark (1995), Paul Casey (2006), and Scott Verplank (2006).

Seasoned Players Shine

Long-term commitment pays off. If you’ve been golfing for over 25 years, you have a 60% chance of making that dream shot.  What’s more, 10% of those who do, record another ace after their first. It shows that even the most difficult shots can be achieved with enough practice and experience. This statistic is a great reminder that anything is possible with enough hard work and dedication.

Age and Achievement

  • Age is just a number: The oldest ace-maker was 103 years young.
  • The majority (73%) of holes-in-one are achieved by men aged 50 and older.
  • Women are making their mark, with 17% of all aces.
  • The average age of first-time achievers? 45.3 years.
  • Those over 50 account for a whopping 70% of all such feats.
  • Tiger Woods made his first ace at the age of 6. Learn more about Woods’ stats in our “Golf By the Numbers: Tiger Woods.”
  • Tom Watson went 37 years between his first and last ace on the PGA Tour (1974 Glen Campell and 2011 Open Championship).

It’s All About Distance

  • The longest hole-in-one stands at 510 yards.
  • The more common benchmark is around 140 yards for men and 116 for women.
  • The most common club used for an ace: 9 iron for men and 7 iron for women.

Aces on Tour

PGA TOUR Began Tracking Hole-by-Hole in 1983

  • On average, PGA Tour enthusiasts will witness 1.32 holes-in-one per tournament.
  • 14 players, including Tiger Woods (1996 Greater Milwaukee Open Final Round), made an ace in their first Professional start.
  • 2009 RBC Canadian Open saw 8 aces.
  • 3 players in PGA Tour history have recorded multiple aces in one round – Brian Harmon is the latest to have accomplished this in 2015 at the Barclay’s (1955 Bill Whedon, 2005 Yusaku Miyazato). 6 others have made 2 aces in the same tournament (different rounds).
  • Andrew Magee is the only player in Tour history to ace a par 4 – at the 2001 Phoenix Open – I actually watched this one and remember it well.
  • Since 1983, there have been over 1,100 holes-in-one in official stroke-play events on Tour, with 61 occurring in the past two seasons.
  • Seasons with the most holes-in-one (this stat goes back to 1971): 1994 (44), 2015 (41), 2002 (39), 1996 (39), 2010 (38)

Top 10 “Aces”of all time

  • It may come as a surprise that the golfer with the most recorded hole-in-ones is not a professional. Norman Manley, an amateur from California, holds the top spot with a remarkable 59 aces. He recorded his first hole-in-one in September 1963 and carded an ace on approximately 40 different courses, the last came at Indian Hills in 1988.
  • Mancil Davis, the “King of Aces,” has recorded 51 hole-in-ones, the most by any professional golfer.
  • During his career, Arnold Palmer achieved 21 hole-in-ones, spanning 11 states and two countries, holing tee shots ranging from 122 to 245 yards.
  • Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods graces this list with 20 aces, the first coming at 6 years of age, as previously noted. Only 3 of these were recorded in PGA Tour Play; the most famous came at the TPC of Scottsdale on a Super Bowl Sunday, and pandemonium ensued.
  • Kathy Whitworth achieved an incredible 88 wins on the LPGA Tour, making her the most successful female golfer ever. In addition to her impressive record, Whitworth has 11 hole-in-ones to her name, a testament to her skill and good fortune on the course.
  • Robert Allenby, an Australian golfer, has four PGA Tour wins. However, he has a remarkable feat of being the leader in hole-in-ones, with 10 on the tour. Additionally, he has won multiple accolades, including 12 PGA Tour of Australasia wins and 4 European Tour victories.
  • Hal Sutton is tied with Robert Allenby for the most hole-in-ones on the PGA Tour with a total of 10. Sutton achieved 14 professional wins on the Tour including notable victories like the 1983 Tournament Players Championship and the 1983 PGA Championship.
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez leads the European Tour with 10 aces to his name. Jimenez, also known as “The Mechanic,” won 21 times on the European Tour, 7 on the Asian Tour, and has logged 13 wins on the US PGA Champions Tour.
  • Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie comes in with 31 European Tour wins and 9 hole-in-ones. He’s won 8 European Tour Order of Merit titles and is a Ryder Cup legend.
  • Hubert Green, a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, holds the record for the third-most aces on Tour with 8. He has 29 professional wins, including 19 PGA Tour wins and two major championships – the 1985 PGA Championship and the 1977 U.S. Open.

Aces Wild!

Celebrations are in order, but remember to be safe. Pro golfer Tony Finau learned the hard way, injuring his ankle during celebrations at the Masters’ par 3 contest. On the other side, Steph Curry’s celebration was something special, according to NBC Analyst Peter Jacobson. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hole-in-one celebration like that – PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour, doesn’t matter,” Jacobson said. “This is pure joy. The elation of making that shot in this championship he dearly wants to win. It’s one of the coolest moments I’ve ever seen in golf … we’ve never seen any reaction like that.”

Hole-In-One Insurance

Yes, there’s such a thing! Event organizers can purchase this insurance to cover the cost of giving away large prizes for aces during tournaments. Some clubs or events offer special prizes, often sponsored, for golfers who score a hole-in-one during specific tournaments. Because of this, many golfers buy hole-in-one insurance to protect themselves financially should they achieve the feat and owe a prize or need to buy a round in the clubhouse. Depending on the circumstances, a policy can cost as little as $200 up to $5000, depending on the number of players and the prize.

Wrapping Up

The allure of the hole-in-one, while elusive, keeps golfers coming back with hope and anticipation. With odds varying from amateur to pro and records that inspire and humble, this golfing feat remains a cherished achievement in the sport. So, the next time you’re on the course, remember these stats, and maybe, just maybe, today could be your day!

Sources:

  • https://blog.gitnux.com
  • https://www.www.todaysgolfer.co.uk
  • https://www.thedailyrival.com
  • https://www.www.nationalclubgolfer.com
  • https://www.www.guinnessworldrecords.com
  • https://www.www.golfdigest.com
  • https://www.www.quora.com
  • https://www.www.golf.com
  • https://www.sportskeeda.com
  • https://essential.golf
  • https://pgatour.com
  • https://www.pgatourmediaguide.com
  • https://www.nationalholeinoneregistry.com/
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