Ask almost any golfer and they’ll tell you that hitting a hole-in-one is on their bucket list. But the achievement isn’t guaranteed and evades even top professionals, let alone everyday players.
Have you ever managed to hit a hole-in-one on the golf course? And as is custom, did you buy a round of drinks for everyone in the clubhouse afterwards? If you’re a regular golfer, you’re bound to be familiar with the idea of getting the celebratory drinks in after completing one of the game’s biggest challenges.
According to statisticians, the average golfer has roughly a one in 12,500 chance of hitting a hole-in-one, so doing so is undoubtedly a reason to celebrate.
There’s evidence to suggest that the tradition of buying a celebratory round dates back more than a century, with some theories suggesting it began as a way for golfers to repay the ‘Golf Gods’ for their luck on the course.
Below, we’ll delve deeper into this age-old golfing tradition and assess how much it may cost at different clubs.
Hitting a hole-in-one: the research
We wanted to find out how respected this long-standing golf tradition still is in the UK, and how many current golfers have hit a hole-in-one and subsequently abided by the sport’s ‘unwritten rule’.
Of the golfers we surveyed, 29% said they had achieved a hole-in-one at some point in their life, while perhaps unsurprisingly given the odds, the majority (71%) said they never had.
However, of the 29% who claim to have hit a hole-in-one, 70% said they paid for a round of drinks afterwards. This suggests the custom is still very much alive.
How many drinks do golfers buy as part of a celebratory round?
Though tradition stipulates one must buy a drink for everyone present in the clubhouse at the time, many would assume some golfers have modified the rules over the years and limited drink-buying to just those in their particular friend group or part of their game.
However, our survey found that the most commonly bought round (by 22% of those surveyed) consisted of between 16 and 20 drinks.
The second most cited round was 11-15 drinks, with 14% saying they purchased this amount.
Just 8% said they only bought 1-5 drinks as part of a round—interestingly, the same amount that said they bought between 36 and 40. It seems bigger rounds are definitely more common than smaller ones as far as golfers are concerned.
Other rounds people reported buying include 6-10 drinks (13%), 26-30 drinks (12%), 21-25 drinks (11%), 31-35 drinks (4%), and 41-45 drinks (3%). Astonishingly, 5% of people even said they had bought between 46 and 50 drinks after hitting a hole-in-one.
Many others stated that instead of buying an individual drink for each person present, they paid for a bottle of whisk(e)y to be put behind the bar and enjoyed by all who wished.
No drink, no excuse?
Of those golfers who didn’t buy a customary round, only 5% said it was because they didn’t want to, offering a further indication that golfers, on the whole, prefer to stay true to tradition.
That said, however, 13% reported it was because the rule is not enforced by their club, which would suggest the decision lies very much with the individual.
The vast majority of non-buyers (71%) said it was purely because there was nobody else present in the clubhouse at the time, while 11% said it was because they couldn’t afford it.
The cost of hitting a hole-in-one: the research
Once we had more of an understanding of how many drinks golfers tend to buy after hitting a hole-in-one, we wanted to look at just how much it may cost.
We contacted all the golf clubs in the current UK & Ireland Top 100 to find out the cheapest draught pint available at each. By doing so, our aim was to find out the priciest clubs to hit a hole-in-one, based on the potential cost of buying a round afterwards.
The most expensive entry level pints we found were:
- £8.50: Trump Turnberry, Scotland
- £5.50: St Andrews (Scotland), Dumbarnie Links (Scotland), Alwoodley (England), Prince’s (England)
- £5.00 (€6.00)*: The European Club, Republic of Ireland
The cheapest pints we found were:
- £2.78 (€3.20)*: Tralee, Republic of Ireland
- £3.60: Cruden Bay, Scotland
- £4.09: Parkstone, England
These figures show a difference of nearly £6 between the cheapest and most expensive pints at Ireland’s Tralee Golf Club and the Trump Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, respectively.
Our survey told us that the most commonly bought round by golfers was 16-20 drinks. So, let’s look at how much a round of this size could cost at different golf clubs in the Top 100.
For instance, 20 of the cheapest pints at Trump Turnberry would set you back £170, while the same amount of the cheapest pint at Tralee would cost much less, at £55.50.
The cheapest pint at an English club in the Top 100 we found was £4.09 at Parkstone Golf Club in Dorset. Buying 20 of these would leave you £81.80 lighter.
This means golfers could save themselves at least £88.20 (or 108%) by hitting a hole-in-one at Parkstone instead of Trump Turnberry. An even bigger saving of £114.50 (or 206%) could be made buying a 20-strong round at Tralee.
We also learnt from the survey that 5% of golfers that bought a hole-in-one-inspired round bought between 46 and 50 drinks. Let’s look at how much that could cost at alternate ends of the pricing spectrum.
Take Trump Turnberry, again. 50 of the cheapest pints here would cost a whopping £425. Back over at Tralee on the other hand, the same amount of drinks would cost just £139—a saving of £286.
The data shows that Scotland is home to various golf clubs at both ends of the price divide. Scotland’s cheapest Top 100 golf club pint, from the data available, is at Cruden Bay—where a pint of Belhaven currently costs just £3.60. Buying a round of 50 here would set you back £180.
So, if you play your golf in Scotland, hitting a hole-in-one at Trump Turnberry could end up costing you up to 136% more in customary drinks than doing so elsewhere.
Here’s how the cheapest averages shape up elsewhere…
Of those golfers that bought a round of drinks after hitting a hole-in-one, our survey found that only 35% had hole-in-one insurance in place to cover the cost of the tab.
Hole-in-one insurance can cover the cost of a golfer’s bar bill after hitting a hole-in-one in a tournament or event.
It’s clear that the price of a pint varies greatly depending on location. While it may not be as black and white as simply labelling golf clubs as either the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ places to hit a hole-in-one, one thing clearly evident is the disparity in drink prices across the UK & Ireland, and hence the potential savings golfers could be making across the Top 100.
Golf Care contacted all golf clubs in the current UK & Ireland Top 100 to find out the cheapest draught pint available at each. 38 out of the 100 golf clubs responded. The figures reported in this article are a true reflection of the data made available to Golf Care.
Prices may vary depending on events and promotions ran by specific golf clubs.
Golf Care also surveyed 2,396 UK golfers in September 2023 regarding the tradition of buying a round of drinks after hitting a hole-in-one and analysed their responses.
*Euro to GBP conversion rates correct at the time of writing, October 2023.