An Ace of a Lifetime

When Gus Andreone of Sarasota, Florida, hit a hole-in-one (HIO) at the Palm Aire Country Club in December 2014, not only did he score an early Christmas present for himself, but he achieved it at the ripe old age of 103. Becoming the world’s oldest golfer to score a HIO, Mr. Andreone, who beat the previous record of a 102-year-old woman who scored her first back in 2007, gripped and ripped his driver on the 113-yard 14th hole to score his eighth ace since 1939.

Unlike sub-par rounds, birdies or even tournament wins, achieving a HIO is not a given, but rather extremely random. Even professional golfers can play out a career without an ace, while amateurs can hack away every weekend for years and still not make the shot they will remember for the rest of their lives.
The statistics speak for themselves and, unfortunately, are not in our favour. Various websites publish them as roughly 12,500 to 1 for an amateur and 2,500 to 1 for a pro golfer.

There have been some spectacular ones over the years on both the men’s and ladies’ professional tours. Before this year’s US Masters, there had only been 24 HIOs recorded since the tournament started in 1934. This year, three were added in quick succession during the final round on hole 16. Shane Lowry’s was first, followed by David Love III, before one of the most bizarre HIO results courtesy of Louis Oosthuizen. On the 16th, the South African hit his shot and saw his ball land on the green, bump playing partner J.B. Holmes’ ball out of the way, and shoot into the hole.

Just as fluky was Leif Olson’s HIO which came at the 2009 Canadian Open. The ball landed on the green, deflected off another ball on the green and trickled into the hole winning Olson a brand new BMW Z4 Roadster.

While the majority of HIO achievements do, naturally, occur on a par-3, there have been a number of aces on a par-4. In last year’s Victoria Open pro-am, Australian pro Richard Green holed his drive on the 391-yard par 4 15th at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads. It wasn’t straightforward however – his drive flew into the bunker to the left of the green but somehow bounced out of the trap and went straight in the hole.

Compatriot Minjee Lee, 19, holed the 234-yard par-4 16th  at this year’s Kia Classic to record her very first ace, while fellow LPGA member Ha Na Jang of South Korea scored the first ever in LPGA history to make a par-4 HIO a month earlier in January at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

While many wait for that elusive HIO –hopefully they won’t have to wait until they’re 103 – and would no doubt just be happy with one, according to the biography of the late former leader of North Korea Kim Jong Il, he made multiple HIOs. Apparently the ‘Dear Leader’ shot a 38-under-par round back in 1994 at the 7,700-yard Pyongyang Golf Course which included a total of 11 HIOs and was witnessed by 17 security guards. Dream on…