Hole in One – Skill or Luck?

Going for the highest score is the aim of every sportsman. Hitting the “Ace” in golf is extremely rare, and therefore it has the wow factor. The everlasting question is what it takes to achieve something that is almost unbelievable. Would it be supreme skill and practice? Or is it a great deal of good fortune?


Hole in One (also written as “hole-in-one”), or “Ace” in American English, occurs when the ball lands straight to the cup by the very first hit from the tee.

A ball hit from the tee following the lost ball, or the water hazard is not considered to be an Ace because of the application of the stroke penalty.

Ace commonly occurs on par 3 holes, which are the shortest distance holes (up to 210/250 yards). Placing the ball into the cup with a single shot is less likely by increasing the distance. So the par 4 and par 5 hole shots would be too long for scoring the ace.


Tom Morris, one of the first stars of professional golf, scored the first recorded hole in one in 1869., at the British Open.


According to The National Hole in One Registry, so far 91933 holes have been submitted.

The chance for the tour player to make the ace is 3000 to one.

The average experience of the golfers who have made holes in one is 24 years, and 60% of them are over 50 years of age.

1 – 2 % of the players make the ace in a period of one year.

(Retrieved from https://nationalholeinoneregistry.com )


The key element for achieving an outstanding result is the precise and powerful shot.

Naturally, it takes years of practice to build up your skills to the level of high accuracy and power. That is why only experienced golfers tend to make hole in one score. What are the skills that make the difference?


Out of many particular skills, there are three that seem more rewarding when it comes to making an excellent shot.

Whether your shot is produced by a fast swift swing or by a fluid long one, your balance must be impeccable.

Further on, you need to have the right tempo. Tempo is quite a difficult skill to define. It may be described as “A unique range of rhythms in which the player functions optimally. Tempo is something you rather borrow, than own.” (Golf Digest, “3 Skills Every Golfer Needs”, May 31, 2011.)

Tension control is the secret ingredient of an exceptional shot. Said in a simple way, the player needs to know where his tension resides and to handle it in the best possible way. The methods that players use are very individual. It can be an essential breathing technique or a unique way such as “whistling while walking” as Fuzzy Zoeller used to do.


A long, powerful and accurate drive may result in a hole in one score. By all means, the solid long drive is a great way to start a hole and get the upper hand.

What does it take to master it? (Hang on, it takes a lot.)

You need to get a good setup and a good grip. Turn your torso and swing in a circle, then speed with your hands and arms and know when to swing hard. You also need the groove center contact to play the right golf ball. Quite a lot, right?


For the maximum possible accuracy, you need to comprehend the complex relationship between the club face and the swing path through impact, and how to create the most favorable conditions for the straight shot.

Surely, you need to practice and make an endless number of shots to reach a high level of precision.


We will all agree that what makes a great golf player are so many elements. The game itself is very complex and takes a long time to master all the skills, to gain experience, to learn how to handle the tension, to bear the pressure of the important tournaments.

Yet, one element, may I say, a special spice has nothing to do with your preparation. It is the power of luck.

The odds to score a hole in one are so small, no matter how many attempts you make. On the other hand, it is known that it may occur to a perfect beginner. Then it is a simple stroke of luck.

Further on, as we consider the law of probability, every time you hit the ball there are 50% chances to score the ace.


Hole in One requires a precise, powerful shot, as well as a significant element of good fortune.

For the element of fortune, the ace is considered less attractive than some other accomplishments, such as Albatross or Condor.

The fact that experienced players tend to achieve ace more often, does confirm the huge importance of skills and practice.

If you make plenty of attempts, you master your skills to the maximum. In that particular moment when you hit the ball the wind, the Sun, and the air are favorable, and you get above it all the right sprinkle of luck, you may score the Hole-in-One. Definitely, it is worth trying. Get in touch and start chasing your Ace!



Become a member

Receive a complimentary hour of baytime and 20 minute swing evaluation with a PGA professional when you join.