The hole-in-one, golf’s Holy Grail. One club, one stroke, one ball in the cup. Even the best in the world struggle to pull it off.
Tiger Woods himself has made only 20 holes-in-one over a professional career that spans 23 years, with 82 PGA Tour wins and counting. Interestingly, 19 of Woods’ 20 aces came before his 26th birthday.
By that particular metric, Norman Manley has Tiger Woods beat.
Wait, who? Manley was an electric designer from Culver City, California, who made his first hole-in-one in 1963 at 40 years of age. A once-per-lifetime achievement, right? Except Manley, who never got within shouting distance of professional golf, racked up a total of 59 aces over the course of his life. 59. It’s a world record that still stands.
Another Californian, Elsie McLean, holds the record for oldest golfer to ever make a hole-in-one. In 2007, she aced the 100-yard fourth at Bidwell Park Golf Course in Chico at 102 years old.
Meanwhile, we find Jake Paine at the other end of the spectrum. In 2001, at three years old, he made an ace from 66 yards on the Lake Forest Golf and Practice Course. Where is this course located? You guessed it: California.
It appears Californians have a knack for making holes-in-one, and a new study corroborates that claim. This research, collected by TheLeftRough, analyzed nearly 30,000 aces scored since 1999 to discover which Americans are most likely to make one and what states they are from.
The top five states where the most talented (or most fortunate) golfers reside, and the number of holes-in-one each state has recorded, are as follows:
California – 2,515
Florida – 2,199
Michigan – 1,351
Texas – 1,150
New York – 1,093
The complete study can be found here.
But the plot thickens when you factor in the number of golf courses located in each state. Based on research from Travel Magazine, here are America’s top five states based on course count:
Florida – 1,250
California – 921
Texas – 907
New York – 832
Michigan – 650
The same five suspects present themselves, but in a curiously different order. Californians have made 316 more aces than Floridians despite having about 329 fewer golf courses in their home state. Michiganders too, are outperforming Texans and New Yorkers despite a similar disadvantage.
The study also revealed that the eighth hole was the most common ace location, with 2,701 holes-in-one taking place there. Holes No. 3 (2,422) and No. 7 (2,180) came in second and third, respectively.
Moreover, players using a 7 iron found the most success with 2,938. An 8 iron and a 6 iron round out the top three, with 2,819 and 2,350 aces respectively.
“It’s interesting to see Californians hitting so many holes-in-one — especially when it’s nearly 500 more than any other state — you have to wonder what training they’re doing out there on the west coast,” said Charlie Parsons, founder of TheLeftRough.
“We’re planning to make this research a recurring thing, so that we can track how holes-in-one in the U.S. are changing — who knows, maybe Florida will surpass California this time next year.”