Steve Carroll: A hole-in-one, it’s a joyous thing. Right? It’s the perfect shot, a one-hit surge of excitement you can spend a lifetime trying to repeat.
So why is it I know people who hope they never have one?
If it’s a big competition, say Captain’s Day, when the clubhouse is full, they’ll stand on a par 3 and wince a little as the ball looks like it is travelling on a decent arc.
It’s one of golf’s greatest traditions that’s causing them concern – buying the drinks after a hole-in-one. I’ve often wondered how this began. If you step back and look at it logically, surely it should be the other way round?
You’ve hit a shot that has statistically been measured as a 1 in 13,000 chance and what’s your reward? Dig deep into your pocket and shell out.
It’s worse if you are on an away trip. I’ve had one ace in my life. The players in front of me were already shouting out their order as I picked the ball out of the hole. The clubhouse was absolutely packed – there was a big competition of about 100 people on the other of the club’s two courses.
So what am I supposed to do? It’s one thing to get them in at your home club where you play with your pals and you are known to all, but now I’ve got to quench the thirst of a room full of people I’ve never met and will never see again?
Was I wrong? Should I have displayed more grace and ponied up? Or is the tradition of drinks buying one that should be consigned to the dustbin of history?
Dan Murphy: Yes you should, but it’s the gesture that counts. I think it’s acceptable to put a bottle of whisky on the bar and when it’s gone it’s gone.
After my most recent hole-in-one, I nervously inquired about the price of a bottle of Scotch at a prestigious links and feared I was about to be charged by the measure. Imagine my relief when she finally came up with a price of… £15.75.
James Savage: I don’t think it should be compulsory. If you feel the need to do it, and can afford it, then fine.
I’d happily get the drinks in for my playing partners but I’m not giving a free bar to people I’ve never met, or worse still, people I don’t like.
I’m also very tight and usually in a rush to leave.
Steve Carroll: Are you the sort that only stays for a pint when they’ve won the roll up?
Alex Perry: I’ve been flukey enough to have two in my time – and both were on trips abroad with fellow golf writers. The first one, at Girona Golf Club in Spain, the owner was so excited he gave everyone a bottle of champagne.
The second one, at Royal Mougins in France, I was in the final group and we had a tight schedule so we were whisked off the 18th and straight to the airport, where I bought my peers a drink.
Largely, it comes down to the situation. If it’s at your club, I’m with Dan, stick a bottle of whiskey on the bar and let them have at it. If I was away with friends, I would just buy them drinks.
Mark Townsend: I don’t get it at all. If I was to ever have a hole-in-one I would expect my playing partners to chip in for an open-top bus parade around Leeds. Not shell out for load of freeloaders who enjoy a neat whisky too much.
We did a good thing at my club where about a dozen of us agreed to pay out £50 if one of us ever had one in any competition.
It’s been going for about five years and nobody has had to pay out but at least it adds a little bounce in your step mounting the 17th tee, before tugging it into some shrubbery.
James Savage: Sub-consciously, I deliberately miss on every par 3.
In all seriousness, I think it’s a bit of a silly tradition and if anyone or anywhere actually tried to enforce it, it would just be another thing to put people off.
Craig Middleton: I’m the same James, I never really want to get a hole-in-one just for the fact I don’t really want to spend my hard earned cash on 100 plus people I don’t know.
However, if I got a hole-in-one at my home course, and was friendly with the majority of members, I’d happily put a bottle behind the bar.
Alex Perry: It’s a bit like when you have to bring cake into the office for your own birthday. I guess the argument is, if you got a hole-in-one and everyone bought you a drink, you wouldn’t get home that day. Or alive.
James Broadhurst: I would be reluctant to buy a drink for everyone in the clubhouse – I’m not Roman Abramovich, unfortunately. But I would be happy to buy drinks for everyone I was playing with that day, although I think they just call that a round.
Surely the player who gets a hole-in-one should be the person who gets free drinks all day?
Alex Perry: The pros win a car for goodness sake.
Craig Middleton: The person who gets the ace should definitely have drinks bought for them, or something from the club.
Whether it be a bottle of something, a free fourball if it’s not your home course, or even something of your choosing from the pro shop. Logic suggests you shouldn’t be out of pocket after such a memorable moment.
Alex Perry: Since when has anything about golf been logical?
Steve Carroll: At a club near me, they have a hole-in-one kitty where you put in a quid and scoop the pot when there’s an ace. That does help with the bar bill. You get a nice tie as well.
Unless it is won the day before your club championship, you don’t realise, get a hole-in-one and triumphantly walk into the bar to claim your prize – only to find there’s nothing in the jar.
No tie was forthcoming, either…
James Savage: A bit like Eggheads when they get beaten two days in a row. The latter foursome winning about a fiver.
Mark Townsend: I used to be fascinated as a junior looking at the board which listed the hole and club used (and would quietly mock their lack of strength which, yes, is ridiculous) so to get on that would be pretty good.
I would still rather have an albatross, or just do both by holing out with the chief at a par 4.