Holes-in-one: How long to wait when you’re expecting

Perceptions of success are always relative and there couldn’t be a much better example of this than golf.

Queensland golfer Anthony Quayle made his first-ever hole-in-one this week. (Image source: iSeekGolf)

by Henry Peters at iSeekGolf.com

The pinnacle in achievement a person’s golfing lifetime differs greatly depending on ability.

For Tiger Woods, it is holding all four majors at once, for a scratch golfer it might be a club championship while for late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, it was the seemingly elusive sub-40 score for 18 holes which – according to local state-run media – he achieved in 1994 with a 34-under round of 38 in his first ever round of golf no less.

But for the majority of Australia’s one million-plus regular and casual golfers, a hole-in-one surely stands as the most memorable golf achievement one may accomplish in a lifetime.

In the past week, Queenslander Anthony Quayle and reigning Australian PGA champion Harold Varner III each posted on social media about having achieved their first hole in one ever; Quayle in a round at Sanctuary Cove in his home state and Varner III at the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament.

Their online posts may not have piqued substantial interest from many golf fans but they’re both examples of players who have waited longer than normal to record their maiden ace.

The odds of a professional golfer having a hole-in-one on a given par-three have been estimated to be about 2,500 to 1, while an average amateur (forgive the vagueness of the phrase “average amateur”) is apparently a 12,500 to 1 chance of acing a par-three.

If these figures hold true, an average amateur who has played 12,500 par-threes in a lifetime should be close to a certainty to have recorded a one at some point.

Taking into account that most courses have four par-threes, that means it should take a little over 3000 rounds for a standard amateur without an ace to his or her name to start feeling hard done by.

22-year-old Quayle – who turned professional in January – can mount a case for feeling stiffed out of multiple aces because not only does he estimate on his Twitter account that he’s played 3000 rounds, but, according to his website, was already playing to a +5 handicap as a 19-year-old.

That is anything but the level of an average amateur.

Varner’s case is even more unusual.

The 26-year-old turned pro in 2012 and is in the midst of his second season on the PGA Tour.

If Varner is a 2,500 to 1 chance of acing a given hole, then, on average, he should expect a hole-in-one every 625 rounds, or possibly even more frequently if you take into account the occasional reachable par-four.

It should come as a great surprise then that Tiger Woods has played more than 1000 rounds on the PGA Tour since his last of three aces on the US circuit, which came at the 1998 Sprint Interna-tional.

But for every player waiting far longer than average for their first or next hole-in-one, there’s some-one overachieving in the ace department.

Robert Allenby shares record for the most ones on the PGA Tour with 10 from about 1660 rounds, which is a hole-in-one every 166 rounds.

Then there are those who – if their claims are true – make holes in one seem almost run of the mill.

American Mancil Davis became a PGA pro in 1974 and says he’s had 51 lifetimes aces while an American amateur named Norman Manley alleges he’s had 59.

It is impossible to know the extent to which a hole in one is the result of skill and of luck.

But it helps to have both.

And if Jong-il had five in his first ever outing on a golf course, then maybe your first or next ace is just around the corner.

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