February 27, 2006

Yardage Requirements for Hole In One Contests

A question we're frequently asked at US Hole In One concerns the minimum distances required for a par 3 hole to be eligible for a golf contest. Essentially there are three types of hole in one contests (grand prize, bonus prize & shootout), and each has its own requirements. In addition, there are different minimums for men and women.

For the grand prize hole (meaning the hole with the large prize determined by you), the minimum distance possible is 150 yards for the men and 135 yards for the ladies. If your preferred hole is a little less than those figures, never fear: most golf courses have approximately 10 yards of "wiggle room" on all of their par 3s. They can move the tees back a bit and move the pin back as well, in most cases. So, never rule out a par 3 just because the scorecard indicates a distance less than 150 yards. For bonus prize holes (meaning the holes with the set of Callaway Big Bertha Irons, Sharp LCD Flat-Screen Television, or the Roundtrip Plane Tickets for Two), the minimum yardage is 130 yards for the guys and 115 yards for the women.

An important rule to also remember when dealing with yardages is difference between the mens and ladies tees. While the minimums are discussed above, there can never be a difference of more than 15 yards between the two sets of tees. For example, if you have a hole where the mens tees are at 160 yards and the ladies tees are at 137, while both tee boxes are acceptable with regards to minimum distances, these distances would not qualify because the yardage difference between the two is more than 15 yards (it is in fact 23 yards). Thus, in this example, either the men would have to move up to 152 or the ladies would need to move back to 145.

Finally, for shootout contests the minimums are slightly further back. As shootout hole in one contests have much more valuable prizes, the minimum distances for men is 165 yards and the minimum for ladies is 150 yards. It is also important to remember that shootouts do not need to take place at a par 3 hole. It is perfectly acceptable to run a shootout from the middle of the fairway on a par 4 or par 5 hole. Just make sure that when doing so, you still abide by the aforementioned distance requirements.

February 24, 2006

Crane's Ace Isn't Enough

Apparently the PGA Tour's advertising slogan is right on, because those guys are good! Not to be outdone by Tiger's perfect 9 and 8 victory on Wednsday, Ben Crane reportedly put together a valiant, last effort against Retief Goosen on Thursday with a hole in one on the par 3, 16th hole at La Costa. Two holes down at the time, Crane hit a laser from 183 yards right to the green that ended up in the cup for an ace. Unfortunately for Ben, he bogeyed 17 to lose the match to Goosen 2 and 1; but not before he made the fourth hole in one of the year on the PGA Tour.

Coverage of the World Match Play Championship continues through the weekend with television coverage on ESPN and ABC. The rest of the tour is playing in Tucson this week at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. Coverage of that event can be seen throughout the week on USA. Full television times can be found here.

February 23, 2006

Tiger's Perfect Match Play Round

At Ace Weekly, we report on the pursuit of perfection in golf. After all, when you hit a hole in one, there is not better shot in the game. You cannot have a better score on any hole than a "one". That being said, we felt the need to report on another example of perfection in the game which turned out to be Tiger Woods' thrashing of opponent Stephen Ames in Wednesday's first round of the PGA Tour's Accenture Match Play Championship.

For those of you unfamiliar with match play, two golfers are pitted against one and other for 18 holes, mano y mano. At the end of each hole, the player with the best score "wins" the hole. At the end of the round, each player tallies up how many holes thay have won, and a winner is declared. In a perfect world, one player is able to win the first nine holes and then either "halve" (a term for tying scores on a hole) or win the 10th. Doing so would finish the match in the shortest possible time.

On Wednesday, that is exactly what Woods did against Ames. Tiger reeled off six birdies to start the round and finished with seven during the day. Ames on the other hand "struggled" with seven pars during the shortened round. When all was said and done, Tiger had beaten Ames by a score of 9 and 8 (this is shorthand for 9 holes up with 8 holes to play), thus finishing a "perfect" match play win.

Some may ask how Tiger mustered the fabulous play considering the wayward accuracy he displayed during the first two tournaments of his season (both of which he won, by the way) and the fact that he was forced to withdraw from last week's Nissan Open due to a case of the flu. Unfortunately for Stephen Ames, he voiced these questions out loud on Monday. When asked whether he had a chance at beating the world's number one player, Ames was quoted as saying, "especially where he's hitting the ball," a direct reference to Tiger's accuracy struggles. Mr. Woods heard these comments and apparently decided to demonstrate his immense talent against Ames on Wednesday. In a post-round interview, Tiger was asked if he heard Stephen's comments before the round. He curtly replied, "yes". When posed the follow-up question asking what went through his mind at the time, Tiger gave one of his fiendish grins and said, "9 and 8".

February 21, 2006

Immelman's Ace: #3 on PGA Tour

Friday's play at the PGA Tour's Nissan Open saw the tour's third hole in one of the year. South African Trevor Immelman made an elusive ace during the second round at the par 3 16th hole. Immelman reportedly made the hole in one with an easy 7-iron from 165 yards. The hole in one was only the third of the year on the PGA Tour following Lucas Glover's ace at the Mercedes Championships and Roger Clemens' miraculous shot during the pro-am portion of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. It was not clear, however, whether Immelman drove away with the new Nissan 350Z Roadster that was on display at the 16th throughout the weekend.

February 16, 2006

Nissan Open Preview: The Wrong Hole In One

The players of the PGA Tour tee it up this week at the heralded Riviera Country Club located just outside of Los Angeles, CA for the 2006 Nissan Open (Broadcast Schedule). While the media will be focusing its attention on whether or not Tiger Woods can finally win this event (it is the only PGA Tour stop that Mr. Woods has played at least 3 times, but never won), we here at Ace Weekly want to focus on another, more interesting golf story: the par 3 sixth hole.

For those of you not familiar with this devilish par 3, it is renowned for its unusual bunker placement. While most golf course architects choose to protect a green with sand traps located all around the putting surface, Riviera's decided the most appropriate place for a bunker was in fact in the middle of the green! (Watch video flyover of the sixth hole)

This unique setup will undoubtedly create some wildly exciting choices for this week's golfers. While common golf etiquette teaches us not to ever chip the ball while on the putting surface, you will surely see some professionals at this week's event consider doing so should their tee shots end up on the wrong side of the bunker. You can just imagine the grimace on the face of Riviera's greenskeeper every time a golfer takes a wedge out of his bag to chip the ball over the sand trap.

Also of note to all you hole in one contest fans out there, if your tee shot ends up in the sixth's in-green bunker, it most certainly does not count as an ace!

February 14, 2006

What makes a golfer a professional?

We've gotten many questions asking for a more detailed discussion regarding amateur status in golf. The distinction is important, after all, when setting up a hole in one contest, as customers are responsible for accurately portraying the makeup of their participants. As professional golfers are presumably more skilled, this skill typically translates into a different price for hole in one contest coverage.

According to the USGA, "an 'amateur golfer' is one who plays the game as a non-remunerative and non-profit-making sport and who does not receive remuneration for teaching golf or for other activities because of golf skill or reputation, except as provided in the Rules [of Golf]." Thus, just because a golfer does not compete on the PGA Tour does not mean that he or she cannot be a professional golfer. In fact, a vast majority of professional golfers are just instructors or players who teach the game for a living.

If you would like to read the full rules and regulations regarding amateur status in golf, we recommend that you visit the USGA's website on the subject:

Amateur Status United States Golf Association

In the end, most golfers are amateurs, and those who are not will typically tell you so, but be extra careful when applying for hole in one contest insurance because while the distinction may not seem important at the time, it is very important to the insurance company covering your event.