Social Media Undecided Over Whether Golfer’s ‘Hole-In-One’ Counts

Debate rages online about an unusual incident in a game of foursomes

Player Jonny Gaffney at the green after hitting his hole-in-one
(Image credit: Instagram/Jonny Gaffney/West Essex Golf Club)

Anyone who plays golf will be acutely aware of its ability to offer up great highs followed by crushing lows, sometimes in the space of two shots. However, for one player enjoying a round of foursomes (alternative shot), it is hard to imagine the experience on a single hole being more bittersweet.

Details of the incident, posted on Twitter by popular golf statistician Lou Stagner, explain how, during the round at West Essex Golf Club near London, the player’s foursomes partner hit a tee shot out of bounds on a par 3. It was left to the other player to attempt to recover the situation, and he did it in style, securing his first-ever ace and halving the hole. The question is, though, does it really count as a hole-in-one?

That prompted a fierce debate on Twitter, and, to try and settle it, Stagner even set up a vote simply asking, 'should it “count”?' Finally, almost 14,000 votes later, the results are in, and the public has good news for the player, with 61.1% voting “yes,” 23.4% voting “no,” and 15.4% voting “It’s complicated.” 

Even the player in question, Jonny Gaffney, who is a vice-captain at the club, entered the debate and seemed to take the incident in good spirits. He wrote: “1. It was my personal first swing at the hole so I’m counting it and it’s a great story. 2. It’s an individual HiO but a Team Par 3. My partner owes me beer for life.”

The incident evokes memories of 1999 when Fred Couples hit a famous “hole-in-three” at the par 3 17th at TPC Sawgrass during the Players Championship. Back then, he hit the first shot into the water surrounding the island green before holing his next attempt to save par, so at least the player is in good company.

It’s the kind of incident that could see debating rage endlessly. However, while individuals will have their own opinion on the matter, one thing is certain: it serves as a memorable story the player can look back on fondly for years to come.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.