ODDS OF MAKING A HOLE IN ONE, BY HANDICAP

The dream of every golfer is watching a ball go in the hole after hitting it from the tee. Many seasoned players play their entire life without achieving this feat, while some not-so-great players claim to have it done more than once. It’s obvious that some degree of luck is involved, but just how much? Today, we analyze the odds of making a hole in one by handicap. DISCLAIMER: They’re low. Veeeery low.

Check out the graphic to find your handicap and see your odds of making a hole in one!

As we can see, skill does play a big part. Scratch players are three times more likely to achieve this feat than a player with a handicap of 18 or more. And if we compare the odds of the two lowest handicap brackets (<0 and 0-5) vs the rest of the brackets we can see how much more likely a skilled player is to make a hole in one.

However, the odds are astronomically low no matter how good you are. On average, you’d need to play ~6,500 par 3’s (or ~1625 rounds assuming 4 Par 3′s per round) to have a hole in one (from a statistical standpoint)… which on the flip side, is great news for us since we now have a target of how many golf rounds we have to play to get one ;-)

Just think of all the birdies, pars, triple bogeys, cart girls, beers, and golfing shenanigans  that awaits you before finally making a hole in one!

I wanted to close out this article a little different because I’m curious to find out how many of you have actually made a hole in one. So drop a line in the comments below mentioning when and how you made your hole in one!

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Enjoy your golf!

About Luis

Golfer, Writer, and Grinter for life.
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31 Responses to ODDS OF MAKING A HOLE IN ONE, BY HANDICAP

  1. David Viscariello says:

    First one just this May, hole 3 south hampton golf club, 148 yards.

  2. Don Blair says:

    I’ve had three and never saw any of them go in the hole! This was due to the green complex and/or elevation change from the tee.
    1st: #4 Kinsale CC – Powell, OH – April, 2010 – 190 yds, hybrid. Playing with my wife riding along. I new I hit a good shot but couldn’t see it when it landed because the green was slightly elevated and has a lot of contour. When we drove up I didn’t see the ball, I was looking to see if it had rolled over or was in the back bunker. I asked her to check the hole to which she replied, “Yep, it’s in there.” She had NO IDEA how monumental it was!!
    2nd: #18 Valley View GC – Lancaster, OH – 180 yds, 4 iron, elevated green, playing with my son, he was humbled!! :)
    3rd: #5 Champions GC – Columbus, OH – 145 yds, 8 iron, pin tucked over/behind bunker

    • Luis says:

      Ahhh, the proverbial hole in one with the family. Take a bow son! I find it hilarious how non-golfers react to an ace, she probably shrugged her shoulders and carried on with her day enjoying the views of the course. Let’s hope you have a crystal clear view of your next one! Thanks for sharing, Don.

  3. Mark Wales says:

    I’ve had (3) holes in one:
    With my brother Greg in 1977 at Lowe’s Creek Eau Claire WI 99 yard hole.
    With Columbia Senior Group Sept/2016 at South Carolina Club in Florence SC 115 yard hole.
    By myself October/2016 at Charwood Club in South Carolina 137 yard hole.
    I’m a 15 handicap and have played about 800 rounds of golf in 45 years.
    I feel very blessed considering all the old guys I’ve played with who are better then me but have never had one.
    Mark Wales
    4516 Darby Ambrose Road
    Lexington, SC 29072
    612-702-3122

    • Luis says:

      There you go, Mark! Three hole in ones is something to be proud of, glad you had the opportunity! I’m going to keep score of my # of rounds and hopefully when I get to 800 I’ll have my first. Thanks for sharing!

  4. David Paulson says:

    I am a 15 handicap golfer who golds about 20 rounds a year. When Inokay golf I play with a group of guys who are significantly better than I am and who play several times a week. One night, after a round of golf that eight of us were engaged in, the conversation came up about their holes in one. All of us had at least one, but these other seven had them at courses like Firestone, Spyglass, Legacy, etc. I hadn’t said anything until they asked me if I had a hole in one and where. I reluctantly admitted that my hole in one was into a stiff wind on #14, 140 yards at “Hollydale”. A course build on land that wouldn’t qualify for a land full. But I had proof with the signatures of my three hacker friends and the club manager. I saw the ball bounce once and in the cup. It is a strange feeling walking onto a green with out a putter to pick up your ball and then to watch the others have to putt out. My snobbish friends got a chuckle out of my Hollydale hole in one, but it was still a great shot, one that I will likely never experience again.

    • Luis says:

      David! As a guy who regularly plays in courses that would have been left out on that conversation as well, I loved that story, there’s something romantic about a hole in one in the unlikeliest of courses. And I’m guessing the celebration would’ve been the same no matter where it happened. Fingers crossed and prayers to the golf gods so you may experience it again! (Huge plus if your snobbish friends have to end up buying you a round!)

  5. James Sampson says:

    2016 While playing with the course professional at Frosty Valley near Pittsburgh. Flew a 5 iron into the hole on hole #8. No bounce or roll !

    • Luis says:

      So you AIRED the hole!!! Talk about pinpoint accuracy eh, James? I’m guessing that being with the course pro at the time was a huge plus as well. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Andy Kindler says:

    I have had one ace and it was many years ago now.

  7. Mark Liquorman says:

    But miracles can happen, as it did for me last week! My first hole-in-one; that is, on a hole that didn’t involve a windmill. Still kind of surreal. We have a hole-in-one pot in our league, and probably the best part was being able to use a chunk of the money to buy a round of beers for everyone.

    • Luis says:

      Perfect timing then, huh? Congrats on the milestone! And if I might say so Mark, that’s EXACTLY how you should celebrate having a hole in one. Keep making the sport better and cheers for (hopefully) many more to come!

      (BTW, I celebrate a hole-in-one on minigolf pretty much like the real thing until it happens for me)

  8. Bob Calabro says:

    Had my first and only hole in one at age 70 after playing about 50 years, 16 handicap.

    • Luis says:

      You give me hope Bob! Super glad that the golf gods gave you the joy after all those years committed to the game. Keep’em coming!!

  9. Sean Nies says:

    I have not made an ace, but one of my family members has made two in one week. He is a scratch golfer and both aces were recorded during league and or tournament play. The event being so rare, was published in the local paper. His comment “It was an expensive week”.

    • Luis says:

      I’m with you on this one Sean, still waiting for the planets to align! You can tell your guy that if we calculate how many $$$ the average golfer would need to spend before making a hole in one, he probably got out VERY cheap. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I am 66 and have been playing for 25 years. I am a 7.5 but most of my playing has been at a 14. I have had 2 aces. One at Gozzer Ranch a 168 6 iron and the other here on Lanai at The Challenge at Manele a 145 8 iron….both attested. Just scored my 7th eagle last night. Richard Bliss Brooke Lanai, Hi

    • Luis says:

      Aloha Richard! Haven’t had the opportunity to play in Hawaii yet, I went there with the wife and couldn’t manage to sneak a round, but I imagine what must feel like to ace one with those beautiful backdrops. Keep’em coming! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Scott Hernke says:

    I’ve actually made 5. I am a 6-8 handicap now. I got my first one when I was probably a 12 hdcp. That was in 2001, the last was in 2014. All were on good shots. No flukes off of a tree or a skull job that ran the down the fairway and through a trap and then somehow found the bottom of the cup. What I am most proud of, even beyond the number of holes-in-one that I have had, is the distances from which I have made them. Yardages are 173, 191, 144, 193 and 223. A nearly 185 yard average. It’s been 7 years since my last one. Kind of feels like I’m due! I’ve had quite a few close calls in the last 7 years, but none have found the cup. I always tell people that while it doesn’t necessarily require a good shot to get the hole-in-one, that no matter how good the shot, it always requires an enormous amount of luck, as getting a ball into that 4.25″ hole from that type of distance is incredibly lucky. I feel very, very lucky.

    • Luis says:

      You should feel proud Scott! You’re the top Grinter in this department so far (no one has had more than three). Five hole in ones is a sweet, sweet achievement. And talk about holing out from 223! That’s some serious yardage right there, congrats. You’re 100% right: it does require a little help from the universe to get it into that tiny, tiny space.

      Thanks for sharing!

  12. Adam Hughes says:

    Eagle’s Nest Golf Course, 1990, 7th hole, 8 iron. I was 12.

    • Luis says:

      Beautiful course, Adam. Let’s hope you’ll get another shot a celebrating an ace as a full-grown man who is more aware of how difficult golf can be! Thanks for sharing.

  13. DES FOX says:

    Hello Luis – I must have beaten the odds because I had a hole in one in competition in 2009 playing off 18 – another one in 2016 playing off 14 – another competition one in 2018 playing off 12 and one more in competition in 2020 at 190 yards on the 17th in Millicent Golf Club.
    Despite all efforts I’ve had no luck with the lottery – Cheers – Des Fox

    • Luis says:

      Hey Des, thanks for sharing! Wow, four (!!!!) hole in ones and three of them during a competition? I like your odds on the lottery!

  14. Mike Bramble says:

    I have been golfing for 34 years now and golf a lot!!! 147 rounds last season. I am always around a 6 cap and my home course has 6 par 3′s… in my life and all my rounds I have never had an ace myself or seen one in my group. The only hole in one I’ve seen was the group in front of me where a guy who wasn’t very good sculled a shot down the fairway, smashed the pin and dropped. I shake my head at players who have had multiple aces, wondering if I will ever get mine. The golf is still good and maybe one day I will have mine.

  15. Tom Wickman says:

    I beat the odds too Luis. As a 19 handicap at the Oxmoor Valley Short Course in Birmingham AL with a lackluster round to that point I placed a PW six inched from the cup and watched it roll in. Instant exhilaration. I felt like I would drop it in the cup on the next hole, but that was on March 1, 2019. I’m still waiting to repeat the feat.

    • Luis says:

      Ahhh, nothing like a hole in one to lift up your round! So nice you actually saw it rolling in, a lot of Grinters have missed it due to elevation/distances. I can imagine the joy you felt! Hopefully, you’ll get another one Tom! (I’m still on the search for the first one myself). Thanks for sharing!

  16. Frank Pag says:

    At Waterford GC Turnberry #6 160 yards up hill and I yelled go in the hole while you’re up there and it did.

    • Luis says:

      Hey Frank! I can picture the headline “Golf ball actually listens to man for once, goes in the hole”. Guess I’ll try that technique next time to see what happens. Thanks for sharing!