July 17th 2021

Hole in One... Luck or Skill?

Is it luck or is it skill??

Every golfer dreams of making a hole in one. The perfect shot… the shot that is elusive to many a golfer. Following Jonathan Thomson’s incredible hole in one from 149 yards at The British Open we ask the question is getting a hole in one just pure luck or is there an element of skill involved?

We’ve seen the videos online or the pictures on social media. A beginner lady golfer on her 5th round with a scorecard filled with 9’s has a solitary 1 on a Par 3. Or perhaps the young boy who asks his father to hold his sunglasses whilst he knocks it in as cool as you like. The joy is the same, the cheers, the celebrations. To a certain extent many could claim these were pure luck, one in a million. How have these two novices got the holy grail in golf so early on in their golfing careers and I’m still searching?

Lets look at the Pros. On the PGA Tour Robert Allenby and Hal Sutton hold the record for the most number of hole in ones on tour with 10 a piece. The 2019-2020 PGA season there were 36 hole in ones. The 12500 to 1 odds for amateurs go drastically down to 3000 to 1 for the tour players. The close proximity and tight dispersion in approach shots for the Tour Pros means the chances go dramatically up. This is from years of curating their craft in iron play and controlling their trajectory and distance control.

There are obviously some discrepancies… Tiger Woods who has 20 lifetime hole in ones to his name has only had one since the turn of 2000. A man renowned for his ball striking unable to relive the feat again, which goes to show an element of luck is a factor.

All in all there is no right or wrong answer. Having a certain level of skill can help improve the chances but one thing is certain… the joy of hitting an ace is incredible.