NCGA Golf

Spring 2017

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orate the accomplishment. "We offer to set up the purchase of a plaque commemorat- ing the event," says Rod Ghilarducci, Head Golf Professional at Peacock Gap GC in San Rafael. Other clubs may sell or give the golfer a flag with the number of the hole on which the ace was scored. A simple Google search reveals any number of places in which to register an ace, including with the World Golf Hall of Fame and the PGA. NCGA members can enter their ace into a hole-in-one sweep- stakes (ncga.org/hole-one-sweepstakes), with two winning a foursome at Poppy Hills or Poppy Ridge. Although the origins of the custom of buying post-ace drinks for the house is unknown, some suspect that private club- houses promoted the tradition simply to increase liquor sales. More likely is that exuberant golfers, way back in the Hickory Age, enjoyed buying a round for friends and nearby strangers simply because it felt good. If the timing of your ace occurs on the right hole during a tournament, you might even walk away with cash or a new car. To cover a $20,000 Honda Civic for a 72- player field, US Hole-In-One charges a modest $341, which is money well spent by an event organizer.While it's rare for an American public links golfer to buy personal hole-in-one insurance, it's more common in the UK and in particular Japan, where many give elaborate gifts to friends and family after making an ace. In the absence of insurance some regular foursomes agree to slip away silently if any of them make a hole-in-one. Others boldly ig- nore the tradition. "I was at a tournament that offered a $5,000 prize for a hole-in-one," says Troon Golf marketing director Kris Strauss. "Well, after one of the participants made an ace he came into the pro shop, filled out the papers that verified the shot, collected his check and then slipped out the side door." If you play at a public course and have a large group that gathers on a regular basis tradition dictates you buy for everyone even though no one will likely hold you to it. Most private clubs try to protect members from their own selves, not always with success. John Johnson, General Manager at Red Ledges GC in Heber City, Utah, used to work at a Colorado club that had a voluntary program. Members would pitch in $5 to $10 every time there was a hole-in-one creating a pot, half of which would cover the bar tab while the other half went to pro shop credits. "There were times when members who weren't in the program got an ace and bar tabs often exceeded $1,000," recalls Johnson. "Most did the right thing and paid for it and then immediately signed up for the program." Many private clubs now make insur- ance mandatory as either a routine monthly fee or a statement charge whenever an ace occurs. At Castlewood CC in the San Fran- cisco East Bay, head pro John Vest says, "When an ace is made we charge every member $6 in the hole-in-one account. Each member is limited to one drink and only Regular Golf Members are eligible." At Red Ledges GC there is no hole-in- one program. "As you might guess," explains Johnson, "not all that many people in Utah drink." This leads me to believe if my skin- flint friend were to make an ace here he might spring for root beers for the house. Jay Stuller is an author, journalist and frequent contributor to this magazine. WWW.NCGA.ORG | SPRING 2017 53 • Tour player making an ace: 2,500 to 1 • Low-handicapper making an ace: 5,000 to 1 • Average player making an ace: 12,500 to 1 • Two players from the same foursome acing the same hole: 17 million to 1 • One player making two holes-in-one in the same round: 67 million to 1 Hole in One Facts for Women • 16% of holes in one are made by women • Average age is 55 • Average years of playing is 15 • Average hole length is 111 yards *From National Hole-In-One Registry

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