Ace in the Hole
There are simply some moments that stand out in a golfer’s mind forever, whether it’s a birdie chip-in from the back edge of the green or a 100-foot-long putt that weaves in and out of ridges only to miraculously drop in for a par.
These are the memories that pique golfers’ interests and motivate them to continue to play the game. But no accomplishment stands the test of time more so than a hole-in-one. No matter what a golfer achieves, the shock and joy of acing a hole, especially for the first time, is never forgotten.
On this day in 1869, golf’s first-ever hole-in-one was recorded, so today we are reflecting on the history and rarity of the shot every golfer dreams of, regardless of age or experience.
Leading the Way – In 1869, Young Tom Morris captured his second consecutive Open Championship in stunning fashion, winning by 11 strokes. One particular highlight was Morris’s ace on Prestwick Golf Club’s 145-yard eighth hole during the first round of the tournament – the very first hole-in-one ever recorded in major championship history.
The Odds are Quite Slim – According to Golf Digest, the odds of acing a hole are very low, no matter how skilled a golfer is. The publication projects the odds of a professional golfer recording a hole-in-one are 3,000 to 1, while the likelihood of low handicappers achieving the feat are even lower, at 5,000 to 1. Of course, for golfers with average handicaps, the odds are even worse, at 12,000 to 1.
Rare Company – As if the odds weren’t slight enough, think about this: the National Hole-In-One Registry has stated only 128,000 holes-in-one are verified each year. This figure is even more impressive considering at least 450 million rounds of golf are played annually. So a hole-in-one is actually only documented once in every 3,500 rounds of golf.
Starting Off Young – The Guinness Book of World Records considers Christian Carpenter to be the youngest golfer to ever net a hole-in-one. When he was just four years and 195 days old, Carpenter shot an ace at Hickory, North Carolina’s Mountain View Golf Club. Proving the hole-in-one was no fluke, Carpenter has since established another record: the lowest score on an 18-hole short course, a 16-under-par 54.
Age Really is Just a Number – On April 5, 2007, 102-year-old Elsie McLean proved a golf ball never knows how old you are. As she arrived at Chico, Calif.’s Bidwell Park Golf Course’s 100-yard-long fourth hole, she pulled out her driver. Upon stepping up to the tee, she swung away and aced the hole, thereby becoming the oldest golfer to ever record a hole-in-one.
That’s One Way to Celebrate Independence Day – While some people were attending parades or lighting off fireworks, Mike Crean was enjoying a round of golf at Denver’s Green Valley Ranch Golf Club on July 4, 2002. The round was not particularly noteworthy until he hit his drive on the 517-yard, par-five ninth hole. Mysteriously, he was unable to find his ball – until he saw it in the hole. Somehow, someway, he had made the longest ace in history, a record that likely won’t be broken anytime soon.
The King of Aces – Norman Manley, an amateur from Long Beach, Calif., has recorded 59 holes-in-one since 1964, most likely an all-time record. So far, his career year, in terms of holes-in-one, remains 1979, when he tallied four aces. Such consistent defiance of the odds will probably never be witnessed again.
Back-to-Back – The odds of recording two holes-in-one during one round are estimated at 67 million to 1. But that didn’t prevent English golf professional John Hudson from acing Royal Norwich Golf Club’s 195-yard, par-three 12th hole and 311-yard, par-four 13th hole consecutively during the 1971 Martini International. To this day, Hudson is believed to be the only professional golfer to ever shoot back-to-back holes-in-one while competing in a tournament.
Redefining the Odds – Given his age, 78, and the odds of making two aces in one round (again, 67 million to 1), there was no reason to believe Earl Dietering would add his name to the record books as he played a round of golf at Memphis, Tenn.’s Irene Golf & Country Club. But shortly after tallying a hole-in-one on the par-three 4th hole with his seven iron, he shot his second ace of the round at the par-three 16th with the exact same club. Dietering is likely the oldest golfer to ever record two holes-in-one during one round.
Don’t Forget to Register – If a golfer is ever lucky enough to make an ace, he or she can register the achievement with the United States Golf Register, which strives to maintain an archive of all holes-in-one documented in the country. Whether a hole-in-one was recorded yesterday, or 55 years ago, golfers are welcomed to register when and where they shot the ace. Since the register’s founding in 1998, thousands of holes-in-one have been archived.