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What is a Hole in One?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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A hole in one is a golf term that indicates a golfer has hit the ball from the tee to successfully reach the green and roll into the cup, all in a single stroke. Also referred to as “acing a hole,” it is the toughest possible shot to score. More commonly, three or more strokes are required to successfully reach the green and sink the ball.

Each hole on a golf course is rated for the maximum number of strokes it should take a skilled golfer to get the ball from tee-off point into the hole. This is called par for the hole. For example, a “par three hole” is rated to require a maximum of three strokes. There are also “par four” and “par five” holes. This alone indicates how special a hole in one really is!

The tee-off or starting point is where the golfer takes the first swing by driving the ball down the fairway. At the end of the fairway is the green. This roughly circular area is mowed closer than the rest of the course, making it visually distinguishable. Once on the green, a golfer must put into the hole or cup by taking relatively short strokes.

The length of the fairway and degree of difficulty varies between holes. Professional courses are the longest, most challenging courses. Sand traps, lakes, trees, land pitch and “dog legs” all increase the difficulty factor, making a hole in one virtually impossible in many cases. However, many golfers still score under par.

If a golfer sinks the ball in one stroke under par, this is called a birdie. If lucky enough to get two strokes under par, it’s called an eagle. On a par five hole, it is possible to get three strokes under par, to make the hole in just two strokes. This is called a double eagle. Less strokes than that, and you have a hole in one.

More commonly, one might see a stroke over par, or bogie. Two strokes over par is a double-bogie, and three strokes over, a triple bogie. While it is thrilling to get a hole in one, shooting par is a very respectable score. Anything under “par for the course” is exceptional, and even a few strokes over par is a good score for non-professionals.

A “long course” has eighteen holes, while some people play nine holes, referred to as a “short course.” The completion of a course is referred to as a “round of golf.” Scores on each hole are added together for the entire round, with the lowest score winning the round. A hole in one helps to keep the overall score lower.

According to Golf Digest, the longest hole in one on a straight shot goes to Robert Mitera, who in 1965 covered 447 yards (408.7 meters) from tee to cup. He could not actually see the flag from the tee off point of the 10th hole on the Miracle Golf Course in Omaha, Nebraska. A slight rise followed by a steep fall prevents sight of the green. Reportedly, Mitera only realized he’d gotten the hole in one when he reached the green and was told by a group of forward players. Mitera’s aced hole, first recorded as 444 yards but re-measured in 1972, remains a Guinness World Record.

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Discussion Comments
By Phaedrus — On Jul 15, 2014

I've only hit one hole in one in my entire life, and it wasn't something I was trying to do. I just wanted to get on the green from the tee, then have a good shot at birdie. The ball landed on the edge of the green and took a few hops. It picked up speed at the hole, but the flag stopped it and I got my first and only hole in one. I got to keep the hole in one ball and a hole in one plaque.

By Buster29 — On Jul 14, 2014

I'll agree that a hole in one is a great and rare accomplishment for any golfer, but I'd have to say that double eagles are even more remarkable. A golfer can get a hole in one while playing a short 3 par hole if he or she gets enough power on the tee shot to land on the green. Scoring a 1 on a 3 par hole is only two strokes below par, if you think about it.

What I think is more challenging is making a double eagle on a difficult par 5 hole. The first shot has to land perfectly in the fairway, then the second shot has to have enough power to land on the green and then roll into the hole. I'm not saying a hole in one doesn't deserve awards, but I'm saying that a double eagle on a par 5 takes even more skill.

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