A perplexing question has come to this writer about holes-in-one.

Bill Kennedy, Golf Columnist

Why does golf etiquette require the person who recorded an ace to have to buy for everyone in a tournament, or in the clubhouse? What raised the question was a friend who shot a hole-in-one recently on what was not his home course, and outside of his foursome, he knew nobody in that event.

“Why should I have to buy drinks for people I do not know?” he said. An excellent point.

Take it even further. Why shouldn’t his tournament teammates buy for the hole-in-one golfer?

The “etiquette” goes back to the early days of golf, when most of that was strictly done at country clubs. And you had to be wealthy to be members of da country club. Internet research went to 1918, but specific “ace names” start in 1921, when a golfer named James Marker recorded a hole-in-one at Pebble Beach.

The thinking in those days was that a country club member could easily afford to buy drinks at the club bar for everyone who was there. Particularly during Prohibition, when alcoholic beverages in the United States were “against the law,” and the booze, generally from Canada, had to be snuck into bars.


Going back in country club history, they made hole-in-one insurance for members, some for $5 and for bigger money at $1,000. The sale of hole-in-one insurance dipped when a few golfers “fabricated” their aces, to get free drinks.

“If you got a hole-in-one, chances are you won money in the match, so you could afford to buy drinks,” is said to be one theory on this subject.

But what about Marcil Davis, who at age 65 had recorded 51 verified aces? Drinks for everyone 51 times could have sent him to the poorhouse.

Just so you do not think this writer’s friend is a cheapskate, the next day he bought adult beverages for everyone in our watering hole. For that, he got a few free drinks in return, even from me, whom he often calls a tightwad. He is kidding, of course.

The odds of getting a hole-in-one are 1-in-12,500 golf shots. With all due respect to the etiquette on this subject, thankfully, a hole-in-one has eluded this writer.


Maine Golf has two championship events upcoming. For the men, it is the Four-Ball Sept. 16-17 at Rockland, while for the ladies it is the competition for the Senior Women’s title Sept. 12-13 at Waterville. Because of these two tournaments, there are no Play Days on tap.

Bill Kennedy, a retired New Jersey golf writer and editor now residing on Thompson Lake in Otisfield, is in his 11th season as Sun Journal golf columnist.

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