What Are the Odds of Making a Hole-In-One?

golf ball falling into the cup for a hole in one
A hole-in-one is one of the exciting things that can happen to a golfer. But what are the odds of that?. Tetra Images/Getty Images

Some people seem to make aces left and right. Other golfers go their whole golfing careers without one. Just how hard is it to make a hole-in-one? Exactly what are the odds? Let's take a look at the odds of a "basic" hole-in-one plus some less likely scenarios.

(Note on sources: Unless otherwise noted in the text, primary sources are the calculations of Boston University mathematician Francis Scheid, Ph.D., on behalf of Golf Digest; and National Hole in One, which provides hole-in-one insurance for tournaments.) 

Standard Hole-In-One Odds for Amateurs and Pros

What are the odds of any given golfer holing out from the tee on a par-3 hole? Your typical hole-in-one, in other words (as opposed to some of the extraordinary circumstances we'll see below).

It partially depends on how good the golfer is. Making an ace includes a heavy dose of luck, but the better you are, the more likely it is you'll eventually get one (because you are hitting more shots onto the green, more balls closer to the hole).

  • Odds of an amateur making a hole-in-one: 12,500 to 1
  • Odds of a low-handicapper making a hole-in-one: 5,000 to 1
  • Odds of a professional golfer making an ace: 2,500 to 1
  • Odds for an average golfer on a 200-yard par-3: 150,000 to 1

Odds of Making a Hole-in-One In Your Lifetime

What are the odds of recording at least one ace over the span of a golfer's playing career?

If you are a low-handicapper and play 1,000 rounds in your life (an average of 25 rounds for 40 years), you have a 20-percent chance of making at least one hole-in-one.

How many rounds do you have to play to make the odds even - 1:1? If you're a low-handicapper who plays 5,000 rounds (100 rounds a year for 50 years), you're even-money to have at least one ace.
 (Obviously, the odds are much higher for average golfers.)

Hole-in-One Odds for a Group of Golfers

Much, much rarer than one golfer making one ace during a round of golf is two golfers from the same group making aces during the same round.

  • Odds of two golfers in the same group of four making holes-in-one at any point during the round: 1.3 million to 1
  • Odds of two golfers in the same group of four acing the same hole during the same round: 26 million to 1

The odds are much better, however, for a field of average golfers. According to US Hole In One (which provides hole-in-one insurance), with a field of 100 amateurs on a golf course that has four par-3 holes, there is a 1-in-32 chance someone will make an ace during that event. (Odds of a hole-in-one during the four days of a PGA Tour event, according to the same outfit, are 1:1.)

Even More Extraordinary Aces and the Hole-in-One Odds

We've told the stories of some amazing aces here, and, of course, you can find many more stories out there on the web at large. Holes-in-one that are so unusual, their odds must be astronomical.

To cite a few:

  • In 1971 a European Tour pro aced back-to-back holes (one of which was a par-4) in a tour event. Odds: 50 million to 1.
  • A husband-and-wife duo aced the same hole on back-to-back swings. Odds: Who knows! So rare it hasn't been (perhaps can't be) calculated.
  • A beginning golfer who'd never even birdied made two holes-in-one in five holes. Odds: Get outta here with that crazy talk!  (But it really happened - instructor Rick Smith saw them both.) The odds of one player making two aces in the same round have been calculated at 67 million-to-1.

See also: What are the odds of making a double eagle?