Have you ever hit a hole in one on a golf course? Yeah, me neither. but that’s because it’s basically impossible, right? I mean, we’re talking about hitting a ball that is 1.68 inches in diameter over 300 feet and into a hole that is 4.25 inches in diameter. Just thinking about those numbers makes me wonder how it’s actually happened before.
More interestingly, it’s not just the best players in the world who get off the hole in one swing – many, many amateurs have recorded a hole in one as well. There’s a pretty good chance you might even know somebody who has (I do, and he won’t shut up about it).
So, how do we figure this one out? We don’t have data on your everyday joe swinging a golf club at the local country club, but we do have data on PGA Tour players so let’s start there.
What are the odds of a PGA Tour golfer hitting a hole in one?
In the 2018-2019 season, there were 36 holes in one on the PGA Tour in 46 events. On average, there are about 144 golfers in the field for each event, and after two days that number is cut down to 70. Each event last four days before a champion is crowned, with each course having an average of four par three holes. This mean that in each event, 74 golfers will have eight chances to record a hole in one, and 70 pros will have 16 chances.
Let’s do some math.
(70 x 16) + (74 x 8) = 1,712 chances for a professional golfer to hit a hole in one at an average PGA Tour event.
1,712 chances x 46 events = 78,752 opportunities over the course of a season for a hole in one to be hit.
With 36 holes in one accomplished, that means that 78,752 opportunities / 36 accomplishments = the odds of a PGA Tour golfer hitting a hole in one on a par three are 1 in 2188.
Now, back to our original question about you, the average Joe.
What are the odds of an average golfer hitting a hole in one?
Since we don’t have the data to find this answer, we have to ask – who does?
Have you ever seen a contest on a golf course – you hit a hole in one and you win a car or a cash prize? Well, those contests are backed by insurance companies. And insurance companies have actuaries. And actuaries have all the numbers.
The odds of an average person hitting a hole in one on a par three are 1 in 12,500, according to holeinoneinsurance.com.
This means that if a golfer played five rounds of golf every year beginning when they were 16 years old, the odds an average golfer will hit a hole in one in their lifetime is about 1 in 10, considering the average life expectancy is 78.56 years old.
I’ll take it.