Sports Facts

All about the ace – what are the odds of that hole in one?


Image via Flickr creative commons from p_x_g

To hit a hole in one is perhaps the number one ambition of every amateur golfing enthusiast. It only ever happens very rarely – which is obviously a major aspect of its appeal. It is worth stressing that very, very golfers ever achieve the fabled hole in one, however much time and effort they put into it. When you take a look at the odds of hitting a hole in one, the scale of the task soon becomes clear. Obviously, the more you practice, the better your chances of hitting a hole in one will be – but it’ll still require more than a little bit of luck if you’re ever to achieve this particular feat.

According to an article from, most holes in one are generally accomplished on par-3 holes. Par-3 holes are so called because a golfer of average ability should be able to get from tee to green in a single shot, with a further two putt shots required to get it into the hole. When players shoot a hole in one on a par-3 hole, they’ve shot two under par – otherwise known as an eagle, although that term isn’t usually used when shooting a hole in one. However, it’s worth nothing that holes in one are sometimes shot on par-4 and even par-5 holes, though these are obviously considerably less frequent than they are at par-3 holes.

Golf Digest calculates that the odds of a US Professional Golf Association player hitting a hole in one are one in 3,756. The odds of amateurs doing likewise are, as you might expect, considerably lower. In fact, they’ve been estimated at between one in 12,000 and one in 40,000 for a par-3 hole by various sources. Odds for hitting a hole in one on a par-4 hole, meanwhile, have been estimated at around one in a million – while the odds for achieving this feat on a par-5 hole are so astronomically high they haven’t even been calculated.

There are, of course, ways in which you can improve your chances of hitting a hole in one. Relentless practicing is one of them, although the odds will still be somewhat remote unless you have a particularly good handicap for an amateur player. Your choice of course could also have some bearing on your chances of hitting a hole in one. Some courses are made up predominantly or even entirely of par-3 holes, so if you really want to hit a hole in one then it might be best to stick to these.

An article from also looks at the prospects of hitting a hole in one for amateur golfers, noting that the aforementioned Golf Digest study estimated that the odds of an amateur player hitting two holes in one in the same round were a massive one to 9,222,500. However, it also points out that there is considerable variance between the different estimates of the likelihood of hitting a hole in one, which just goes to show how incredibly difficult it is – and how incredibly lucky you have to be to achieve a hole in one. But just in case, it might be worth taking out hole in one golf insurance to cover part of your drinks bill in the event that you do manage it.

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