Why Do Golfers Buy Hole In One Insurance?

A hole-in-one is a rare achievement. The odds of an average golfer shooting a hole-in-one is 12,500 to 1 – no wonder why it makes such a great accomplishment to add to your bucket list. But wait – not if you live in Japan! There, you might be happier to end up with a birdie and not a hole-in-one as an ace may well leave a hole-in-wallet. Find out why as Alex Mayyasi writes for Priceconomics:

The goal of insurance is usually to protect us from life’s least happy circumstances: the loss of a family’s primary breadwinner, the theft of one’s car, the onset of an illness requiring expensive treatment. We buy insurance to protect us from misfortune and the times when lady luck lets us down.

But there is one type of insurance that people buy to protect them from the consequences of unusually good luck: In Japan, the U.K., and, to a lesser extent, around the world, golfers buy insurance to protect themselves from the potentially bankrupting consequences of sinking a hole in one.

The concept of hole in one insurance may baffle the uninitiated, but to many it is a wise precaution as golf tradition holds that anyone who scores a hole in one should buy drinks back at the clubhouse for his playing group — if not everyone present. In Japan, many give extravagant gifts to friends and family after scoring a lucky ace.

In our research, we failed to dig up a definitive account of how the tradition became so entrenched. It likely came out of exuberant golfers buying rounds of drinks for friends and even strangers. Perhaps it was influenced by the idea behind many traditions of someone who experiences a great success humbling him or herself. (In judo, for example, anyone promoted to a higher belt is celebrated by being thrown onto his or her back by everyone else in the room). Clubhouses also likely promoted the tradition as a way to drive up bar tabs, while some speculate that golf courses, which often put up a plaque for holes in one, may have formalized the tradition to discourage golfers from making false claims.

However it happened, the tradition has turned a hole in one into something that is equally celebrated and insured against like a calamity — or at least a micro-calamity. After spending $650 buying the entire clubhouse champagne at England’s South Winchester Golf Club following a hole in one, Paul Neilson told Bloomberg, “I couldn’t afford to go through all that again. I used to have a policy but never got around to renewing it.” Among the stories from Japan, the same article quotes Eiji Yoneda, who was one of 200 people invited on a dinner cruise by someone celebrating a hole in one.

A number of firms offer hole in one insurance, frequently bundled with other services that golfers commonly buy like insurance for golfing equipment or personal liability. (Apparently yelling “Fore!” can’t ward off lawsuits if you hit a ball right at someone.) Golfplan, a U.K. insurer, covers $340 to $510 worth of drinks for hole in one celebrations. (Clubs’ set of rules for validating a hole in one makes it easier to process claims.) When it is sold unbundled, hole in one insurance can be cheap; Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Ltd offers Japanese golfers hole in one insurance for as little as a $3 premium. Outside of individual policies, golf tournaments also get hole in one insurance so that they can offer huge cash prizes for a hole in one as a marketing promotion — it’s the same type of “prize indemnity” insurance that covers teams when a fan sinks a half court shot or makes a field goal.

In the United States, where the custom is less firmly established, golf forums are filled with debate about what tradition demands. Some clubs have written the tradition into their rules. The New York Times notes that the membership dues at one San Francisco club include covering $250 worth of drinks to celebrate any hole in one, while a similar system at a club in Bremerton, Washington, gives pro shop and food and beverage credit to the lucky golfer — it’s up to him or her to share. Where clubs don’t have set rules, many people suggest only buying drinks for friends and playing partners rather than the entire clubhouse.

Other golfers admit to fearing the wrath of a spouse if they treat the clubhouse, and therefore having agreed with golfing buddies to slip away quietly without telling the clubhouse if anyone scores a hole in one. It’s a rather sad result of the tradition — instead of celebrating a hole in one like the once in a lifetime accomplishment that it is (the odds of getting a hole in one, very roughly, are 12,500 to 1 for an amateur and 7,500 to 1 for a professional), it pushes golfers to slink away like they crashed a golf cart in a sand trap.

In the great American tradition of ignoring tradition, a number of other golfers have decided to ignore the debate entirely (several golfers say they’ll ignore this tradition as it originated when only “the upper classes” played golf) or to put the focus back on the lucky golfer. “If I ever hit an ace I’m going to flip the script on everyone else,” says one golfer. “They should all be buying ME drinks… not the other way around!”

Animal Encounters on the PGA Tour

Golf can sometime be boring, lets admit that. But when animals get into action, it is a different ball game. Watch and enjoy this below video compilation (or click here) of the animals/birds that gives a damn to some some of the biggies on green.

For knowledge sake, animals on a golf course are considered “outside agencies” by the Rules of Golf. Here are what the rule books says about these outside agencies.

19-1: If a player’s ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies.

18-1: If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy Stop by ‘The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (click here for video) on Monday as part of their promotion for a new line of Nike golf gear. Fallon challenged Rory to a game that involved chipping balls at glass pictures of each other’s faces

Remember when Jimmy Fallon Beat Tiger Woods at Wii Golf way back in 2009 (watch here)? Not this time! Rory, who is currently at the peak of his career riding on three consecutive victories (in the Open Championship, the Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA), made a strong showing. Does this count as the fourth?

When lightning Meets a Golf Course

Ever wondered what lightning could do to a golf course?

Here is a visual (or click here) of the aftermath of a lightning striking the flag-stick of the 1st hole in Quteniqua Golf Course, South Africa. Luckily, the strike occurred at night and nobody was injured.

Looks like god scored his hole-in-one there!

Iconic Moments in Golf – Part 3

Following up on our series on iconic golf moments, below we share photographs of key moments in the game of golf. Have we missed any?

Phil Mickelson jumps for joy after sinking an 18ft putt to win the 2004 Masters
Miguel Angel Jimenez pulls an incredible off the wall shot on the 17th at St. Andrews

Louis Oosthuizen's albatross at the Masters, one of the rarest shots in golf

Continue reading “Iconic Moments in Golf – Part 3”

Golf’s 5 Most Dangerous Golf Courses

A round of golf can often be uneventful. But when you play at any of the below listed courses, you raise the odds of an adrenalin-pumping round.

5. Carbrook Golf Club, Brisbane, Australia

Members of Carbrook Golf Club in Brisbane, Australia, now have even more reason to be cautious about the water hazard on the 14th hole. Believed to be the only Shark-Infested golf course in the world, it has now become a common sight for golfers playing the hole to view these man-eating Sharks swimming near the edges of the lake, just off the fairway.

The killers, some up to 10 feet long, are thought to have washed into the lake during a flood in the early 90s when the nearby Logan river burst its bank. Not all reactions have been negative – As club GM Scott Wagstaff said, “You can’t believe how close you are…just six feet away, “There’s no drama, it’s become a positive thing for the golf course. They are amazing. I’ve become a shark-lover since working here.” The club presently hosts a monthly tournament called the Shark Lake Challenge.

4. Uummannaq Golf Course

Uummannaq (click here for pronunciation), the coldest course in the world, is located 600 km north of the Arctic Circle and since 1997 has been the home to the World Ice Golf Championship. The picturesque par-36 9-hole course (with your typical mix of five par 4s, two par 3s and two par 5s), is located between two glacial icebergs – the moving ice results in a constantly changing layout as weather conditions fluctuate.

With the backdrop of huge mountains of ice glistening in the sun and course temperatures that fall below 50 degrees below zero, some local of the rules have added that suit the course conditions – notably the use of a fluorescent orange ball (as white balls are easily lost against the snowy backdrop), and ban of graphite clubs that have a tendency to shatter at these cold temperature.

3. Skukuza Golf Course, Kruger Park, South Africa

Skukuza Golf Course (pronounced Ska-koo-za) is a 9-hole course on the outskirts of Skukuza Restcamp. Built originally in 1972, it is now open to the public. There are no fences around the course, allowing the animals from the Kruger Park to wander in and out. Golfers are welcomed to the Course by a Sign board that states “Beware: Dangerous Animals. Enter at Your Own Risk”, which helps explain why an indemnity form has to be signed before teeing off at the first hole.

2. Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA

Harbour Town Golf Links is rated as one of America’s 100 greatest courses you can play but it became one of the most dangerous during the Heritage Tournament in 2001. Kip Henley was caddying for Brian Gay when Gay’s ball became stuck in the mud on the fifteenth green. Kip went to get the ball back and discovered it was guarded by a 6-feet alligator. While he may have been able to ask for a free lift, Kip calmly hit the creature with a rake until it left.

1. Camp Bonifas, South Korea

The golf course in Panmunjom, which lies in a demilitarized zone between North and South Korea is often called the most dangerous golf course in the world. It has earned this monicker not for deep hazards nor for unplayable rough, but because of the mine fields located on three sides of the course.

The golf course was constructed in 1972 for the service members of Camp Bonifas, the U.S military installation in Panmunjom and is not open to outsiders. It is a lonely outpost (no theaters or restaurants) and the course provides a much needed respite for the 50 U.S soldiers stationed there.

The course is made up of a single (and deadly) par 3 measuring 192 yards – but it plays more like a 250 due to the vicious winds. There are not many places where you have a lost ball due to explosion, making Panmunjom the “Most dangerous golf course in the World”

Just use Your Tree Iron

At times pro-golfers get a bad swing and the ball may well end up stuck in a tree. Well, when that unfortunate event happens there are 3 ways out for a continuing play,

a. Unplayable – Declare the ball unplayable under Rule 28 and take a one-stoke penalty

b. Lost Ball – One-stoke penalty and return to the spot if the previous stroke and replay the shot

c. Play It as It Lies – Meaning, climb the tree, get into a position and take a swing at the ball. By doing so you avoid the one-stoke penalty.

On the tour, where every stroke counts, the process are apt to choose option c – see the famous examples of Bernhard Langer and Sergio Garcia. These guys really do have every swing in their bag!

59ers in PGA Golf History

For several decades 59 has been the magic number on the PGA Tour. 6 Players so far have shot 59 on the PGA Tour. Here is the list of players who achieved this rare feat – which one is your favorite?

Al Geiberger, 1977

The first-ever player to shoot 59 during the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club.

He began his round on the back nine, and dropped an 8-footer on the final hole to mark his name in the history books. His score included a 11 birdie and an eagle.

Chip Beck, 1991

Beck shot a 59 in the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational on the Sunrise Golf Club (par 72) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

His round included 5 pars and 13 birdies overall (a PGA Tour record for birdies in one round) including a three footer on the 18th hole. Beck finished tied for third in the tournament.

David Duval, 1999

Between 1997 and 1999, Duval won 11 times on the PGA Tour. It was in his peak period and at the final round of the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic he got his magic score of 59.

He had 10 birdies heading into the 18th, and then eagled the par-5 with a 6-foot putt to reach his 59.

Paul Goydos, 2010

During the first round of the 2010 John Deere Classic, Goydos became the fourth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59 . His round included 12 birdies and 6 pars.

His 8-under 28 on the back nine matched the lowest nine-hole score in relation to par on the PGA Tour. He is also the oldest person to post the number by seven years.

Stuart Appleby, 2010

Stuart Appleby became the 5th person to record a 18 hole score of 59 in PGA history at the 2010 Greenbrier Resort to win his fifth PGA Tour title.

Appleby birdied the last three holes, giving him nine birdies and an eagle in a round of 11-under par 59. He is also the first non-US golfer to break 60.

Jim Furyk, 2013

Jim Furyk became the sixth golfer in the history of the PGA Tour to join the 59 Club by shooting a 12-under 59 at the BMW Champioship, Conway Farms.

Furyk made 11 birdies and holed out for eagle on the par-4 15th hole. He made a 3-footer at the par-4 ninth hole, his final hole, to shoot 12-under 59.