Nobody said that life is fair and that unquestionably applies when it comes to recording a hole in one in golf – the sport’s instantaneous adrenaline rush.
There are countless very accomplished, frequent and lifelong golfers out there still grinding for their first ace…and, fact of life, it may forever escape them.
And then there are the stories of a 7-year-old topping a driver on a par-3 her first time ever on a course and rolling it 100 yards into the cup.
What are the odds?
A former co-worker, a greenhorn golfer, came bouncing into the office one Monday morning excitedly broadcasting about his first-ever ace recorded that weekend. I, ace-less, jealously inquired on the whats, wheres and hows of his brilliantly struck shot. I knew the course and the hole, and had played it many times. No. 12 was a straightforward downhill par-3 normally playing in the 110-yard range; it is an easy sand wedge for many.
I asked him his club selection. A 6-iron! I choked on my slightly scorched cup of metal office pot coffee. His shot should have soared over the green and continued gaining altitude past the next tee box before bonking someone in the head in the next fairway.
Instead, come to find, his perfectly mis-hit tee ball slammed into a bank, barely pin-balled past the rough, braked on the fringe, casually meandered the length of the green and peacefully died into the cup with perfect speed. It sounded more like a turn in the old-school Mouse Trap board game.
What are the odds?
Insurance companies that back hole-in-one contests can tell you the probabilities; their continued liquidity depends on that knowledge.
Professional golfers have a 2,500 to 1 chance. And they habitually stick it close via a lifetime spent honing their craft. Sam Snead reportedly had 42 aces using every club in his bag except the putter.
The odds for a non-professional scoring an ace are more astronomical at 12,500 to 1. To break it down – and don’t read this if easily discouraged – if you played standard courses with four par-3s per 18 holes, you will find your par-3 ace somewhere in your next 3,125 rounds; play golf every single day without fail for the next 8.56 years and you are due.
Every golfer without an ace has had their near misses; the ball rattling the pin and bouncing away, winding up agonizingly close but refusing to collaborate those last few inches. Close, but no Macanudo…
The coveted hole-in-one shot, based on their documented randomness, is an indeterminable mix of precise skill, blind luck, clean/bad living and instant karma.
I finally got my yearned-for ace a few years ago. It required travel two-thirds of the way across the country. The exhilaration of pulling the cooperative ball out of the cup and giving it an appreciative kiss made nine hours of flying the uncomfortable skies well worth the effort.
If you are still on the first-time ace chase, here’s hoping the volatile golf gods soon relinquish yours.