What To Do If You Get A Hole-In-One

We explain what the etiquette is when someone makes a hole-in-one and and how this can vary according to the club

What To Do If You Get A Hole-In-One
(Image credit: Gerry Images)

What To Do If You Get A Hole-In-One

At my aunt's workplace, when it was someone’s birthday they had to bring in cakes for everyone in the office. My mother thought this wrong. She believed the person with the birthday should have cake bought for, not by, them.

Maybe my aunt's boss was a golfer, for something similar exists in golf with a hole-in-one. It is the achievement of the player, which everyone else get rewarded for. The person with a hole-in-one has to buy everyone else something to mark the occasion. In this case it is a drink. 

Golfing tradition dictates that any golfer who makes a hole-in-one buys the drinks afterwards. Who he or she buys for can vary upon whatever local tradition exists at the club. The most widespread one is that the golfer buys a drink for his playing partners after the round and a drink for everyone else in the clubhouse or bar when he returns.

Thus a hole-in-one can become mightily expensive if you happen to hit a busy time in the bar, such as on a club competition day. Some people therefore believe it is acceptable if player with the hole-in-one only buys for his playing partners, but others look askance at such an attitude.

However some clubs have a local policy such as that the golfer puts some money behind the bar by way of a tab and when that is used up, that is the end of his obligation. Others have a tradition that the player just buys a large bottle of whisky which then sits on the bar counter for anyone to help themselves to a tot from.

Some insurance companies offer hole-in-one insurance whereby the maker of a hole-in-one gets a stated pay out by the company. Often this is bundled in as part of a more general golf accident insurance policy.

Also, to count as a true hole-in-hole a couple of criteria have to apply. The first is that you are not alone; you can be playing alone, but someone has to be there marking your card to testify to your feat. The second is that it is part of a formal round of golf, not just part of a few practice holes.

To count a true hole-in-one the ball is hit from the tee into the cup and stays there. (The last bit might seem a tad pedantic, but I know of one chap who hit the ball into the hole on the full, but it bounced out and rolled into a greenside lake.) A hole-in-one is also known, albeit less commonly, as an ace.

Since you ask – didn’t you? – no, I have never made a hole in one. I have seen one made though. It was by my brother, who go his hole-on-one with a putter. He still owes me that drink.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Roderick is the author of the critically acclaimed comic golf novel, Summer At Tangents. Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is also the author of five non-fiction books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.