Golf magazines have long been a repository for hole-in-one stories and records. Golf Digest South Africa accumulated many such reports over the years from 1995 to 2018 and the most unusual and interesting of these have been included here on the Top 100 Courses platform.
However, hole-in-one records are never entirely complete or up to date, certainly not in South Africa.
If you have an unusual story to tell about holes-in-one, let us know so that it can be included among those we have already. Take a look at the records we have, and inform us if we have left something out.
THERE IS NO SPECIFIC RULE
GOVERNING ACES IN THE RULES OF GOLF
Hole-In-one matters do not form part of the R&A’s jurisdiction and it is for individual committees or clubs to decide whether to recognise holes in one. However, to be seen as a legitimate hole-in-one:
It must have occurred on a recognised golf course, not a mashie course or driving range, as defined by The R&A.
It must have been witnessed.
It must have occurred during a normal game of golf, either nine or 18 holes, not just hitting balls at the pin on a par 3.
It must have occurred under the auspices of the Rules of Golf.
In the event of a contentious issue arising, for example not completing a round, the committee must decide.
YOUNGEST TO HAVE A HOLE-IN-ONE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Tim Clark was 8 years and 7 months when he aced the ninth hole at Umkomaas in July 1984 using a 2-wood. At the time he was judged to be the youngest in South Africa. Trevor Immelman broke that record in April 1988, aged 8 years 4 months, using a driver at Somerset West’s 12th (the hole no longer exists). The record was lowered again in April 2006 by Chris Woollam, who was 6 years and 8 months when he aced the fourth hole on the Woodmead course at Country Club Johannesburg. Woollam, like Clark and Immelman, went on to greater fame. In 2018 he reached the SA Amateur final at Durban CC, losing to Deon Germishuys on the 39th hole, and also the Northern Amateur final at Randpark, losing to Andrew Carlsson at the 37th hole. Woollam won the Proudfoot Trophy at Humewood in 2017 with a score of 129
Note: Tyron Davidowitz was 7 years and 9 months in July 2006 when he holed out with a 3-wood at No 12 at Hermanus (now the 21st). Kyle McClatchie, now a Sunshine Tour pro, had his first ace at 9 years and 3 months in 2006 using a driver on the 153m 11th at Modderfontein.
Herman van der Walt was 12 when he aced the short par-4 ninth (now the 18th) at Centurion in 2012. Playing from the front tees he carried the water between him and the fairway.
HOLE-IN-ONE WITH YOUR FIRST TEE SHOT OF THE DAY
Westlake was the venue for the Mercedes-Benz Ladies Classic in September 2015. There was a shotgun start, and Mowbray member Sherin Rawlins teed off first on the par-3 17th. A 28-handicap, she took out her driver. No one on the tee saw the ball go in the hole, but there was a group behind the green who witnessed this unlikely ace. These people weren’t there by chance, they were stationed on the hole for auditing purposes. There was a prize for an ace at 17 that day: a R650 000 two-door Mercedes-Benz 250SLK sports coupe!
Since 2012, amateurs have been allowed to accept hole-in-one prizes of this enormous value (it’s unlimited), the proviso being that the ace must occur during a round of golf and be incidental to that round. Contests conducted other than on a golf course do not qualify under this provision.
How many golfers in South Africa have holed out with their first tee shot of the round? It turns out, quite a number of them. There have been more than 20 aces on the opening hole, a short par 3, at Simbithi, the executive Par-60 course on the KZN North Coast. Even more remarkable: six of them were by golfers “playing the very first round of their lives.”
ACES BY GOLFERS AT THE SAME HOLE IN THE SAME FOURBALL
Jock Watt & Abe Kaplan at East London No 2 in 1982 Norman Crawford & John Hurry at Royal Johannesburg West No 5 in 1986 Zulu Cason & Tish Payne at White River No 17 in 1995 Rene Rademakers & Sakkie van Rooyen at Walmer CC No 3 in 1998 Clive van Druten & Giles Buchanan at Atlantic Beach No 7 (now 16) in 2003 Doug Bottomley & Johan Meyer at Royal Durban No 15 in 2008 Bernard Voight & Ian Visser at Fancourt Links No 8 in 2008 Joseph & Cecilia Abraham (husband and wife) at Mbombela No 13 in 2016
TWO ACES IN THE SAME ROUND
Vivienne Player at the Wanderers in September 1978 at No 15 and 3. Alex Velissariou at Stellenbosch in March 1983, at No 7 and 9. Brett Gregory at Royal Durban in 1992, at No 12 and 14. Sonja Swanepoel at Randfontein in April 2009, at No 5 and 7. Neil Marsden at Erinvale in September 2009, at No 12 and 14. Liaan Smit at Mossel Bay in February 2010, at No 8 and 15. Mauro Nettl at St Francis Links in May 2014 at No 7 and 17*.
Colin Higgins at Pretoria CC in November 2016 at No 8 and 14.**
*Three weeks earlier Nettl had made his first ever ace, at No 14. ** Higgins used a wedge for both aces from 113 and 127 metres.
TWO ACES AT THE SAME HOLE IN THE SAME DAY
Jacobus Liebenberg, 17, from Sishen, aced the 114-metre eighth hole at Schoeman Park twice in the same day on August 21, 2005, using a wedge on each occasion.
TWO ACES IN TWO DAYS
1/ Sunshine Tour pro Keith Horne aced the 12th at Leopard Creek on consecutive days during the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Championship. 2/ Jaco Kriek (Centurion) aced the ninth hole at Simola on March 9 2017, and had another the next day at Pinnacle Point’s No 7
OLDEST SOUTH AFRICAN MALE
Harold Burgess, 97, at Indwe GC in July 2005 Jack Hodgson, 88, at CMR in October 2003 Aubrey Coppin, 88, at King David Mowbray 16th in June 2020
OLDEST SOUTH AFRICAN FEMALE
Wladzin Olivier, 81, at Amanzimtoti GC in July 2013
Carel Bestbier’s first ace could not have occurred in more unusual circumstances. The De Hoek member played in the Institute for the Blind golf day at Worcester in May, 2014. On the par-3 ninth competitors were required to hit their tee shots while blindfolded, and Carel holed out.
Mike Copeman, 10, had three aces within 24 days in December 2012, at Steenberg (2) and Pinnacle Point. Mauro Nettl had 3 aces in 3 weeks at St Francis Links in 2014 at 3 different holes.
Gary Player had South Africa’s first televised ace, in the 1986 Skins Game at CCJ Woodmead, on the fourth hole.
At Wingate Park in May 2005 Neels Kruger was the last to play in his fourball at the eighth, and made an ace. Nick Thirion was first to play in the following fourball, and before teeing off said to his playing partners, “If Neels can ace this hole, so can I,” and promptly did so.
Corne Maritz, 17, had five aces in the space of a year (2000-01), two at his home club, Pretoria CC, and others at Cullinan, Blyvooruitzicht and Oppenheimer Park (during the 2001 SA Amateur).
In the 2001 Premier Interprovincial at Pretoria CC, KZN’s Morgan Phillips aced No 14 in the morning foursomes to the joy of his partner Mark Cox. In the afternoon Cox aced the same hole in the singles. Both hit 9-iron.
Former Selborne club professional John Forrester gave golf lessons, and in 1988 his pupils at the new course included his wife Julia. Playing her first round of golf, Julia made a hole-in-one at the sixth at Selborne with her husband watching. John, who had never had a hole-in-one himself at that time, insisted that she complete 18 holes, and several hours later she reached the clubhouse, hot and tired, vowing never to play golf again!
Leeuwkop Golf Club has as its 18th hole a 128-metre par 3. In the 1993 club championship Hennie Swart stood on the tee two shots behind leader Craig Hunter – now the course superintendent at Serengeti – and made an ace to tie Hunter, then won the playoff. Three years later Hunter came to the last hole one shot ahead and joked that he needed an ace to make the title safe. He put the ball in the hole for his first-ever ace.
Matthew Spagnoletti had his first hole-in-one at Pecanwood’s third on a Sunday morning, and called his father Andrew in Cape Town to tell him the news. There was no reply, and he left a voicemail saying “Guess who got a hole-in-one, give me a call.” Andrew phoned Matthew back that evening, and the first thing he said was, “How did you know?” Andrew had had his first ace that afternoon at Clovelly’s eighth.
Stan Johnson had a hole-in-one while playing in his 50th club championships at Krugersdorp in 2006. He won the club title four times, and was a runner-up on 11 occasions.
Dandre Neumeyer had a hole-in-one at Mbombela’s No 17 on December 14, 2016. Ten days later, in his next round at the course, he told his playing partners, “last time I holed out, but the flag is in a different spot. Might have to hit this one a bit harder.” He popped it in the hole yet again.
Edwin Nel lays claim to having the very first hole-in-one of the 21st century. Nel, a former president at Centurion golf estate, and currently the General manager, had an early round booked at Irene Country Club on January 1, 2000. At 7.50 that morning, on the long par-3 fourth hole, he holed out with a 5-iron. Another notable New Year’s Day ace came from President Cyril Ramaphosa at the second hole at Elements Private Reserve in 2015.
Billy Matthee from ERPM had the first hole-in-one at Elements Private Reserve, at the second hole in October 2006. Three years later, in October 2009, he had the first albatross at Elements, holing his second shot on the par-5 seventh.
AN EAGLE ON EVERY HOLE AT KING DAVID
One of the most remarkable achievements in club golf took place at King David Golf Club in Cape Town. The course closed at the end of 2015 and King David merged with Mowbray Golf Club. Stath Christie, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2021, played the course for 50 years from 1965 onwards, and during that time he managed to eagle every one of the 18 holes at least once. In fact, he eagled every hole on at least two occasions other than the difficult par-3 12th, where he only had the one ace. He had eight holes-in-one in his golfing career, seven at King David and another at the old Wedgwood layout in Port Elizabeth, his original home town. Christie was twice a club champion (1980-82) and he recalls a round of 68 at King David where he finished with an eagle two at the 18th.
WIFE AND HUSBAND RIVALRY RESULTS IN 4 ACES
In 1982 at Nelspruit GC (now Mbombela), Clare Luyt had two aces, at No 17 in March and No 13 in May during the annual Jock of the Bushveld tournament. Over a few beers at the club that evening, her husband John was teased by members about how Clare was outdoing him on the course. The next day John went and holed out at No 13. The hole became known as “Luyt’s Lager.” The members still had a dig at John, saying Clare was still 2-1 up. On August 1, 1982 John sorted that out by acing No 17. Their four combined aces were the only ones at Nelspruit that year.
HOW LEGITIMATE ARE ACES AT A BLIND HOLE?
In 1929 at Durban Country Club there were 10 aces by club members. All were on the par-3 fourth hole between April and November. Sound unusual? Back then this was a blind hole from the tee, the green hidden behind a mound. The caddies used to sit close to the green. In those days it was customary for any golfer having an ace to tip his caddie a pound.
The run of aces came to an end when a golfer on the third spotted a caddie picking up a ball and popping it in the hole. The club immediately had the mound removed so golfers could see the green. In the next six years there were just 3 aces at the fourth.
GRAND SLAM OF ACES
Acing all the par 3s at your home course is one of the rarest of feats among those golfers lucky to have multiple aces. Royal Durban member Milton Bartholomew not only achieved this, but did it three times at Royal. The late Bartholomew had 21 aces in his lifetime, and 12 were at Royal. His best run of aces was 3 in the same month. He was 83 when he had his final ace at Durban CC in 2004. Bartholomew once asked Bobby Locke about his success rate, and Locke replied: “Without knowing how you swing the club, I know that you must hit a draw, because most aces are scored with that shape.”
Other recorded instances of golfers acing every par 3 at their home club: Jock Wellington (Kyalami); Mike Hargreaves (Uitenhage).
James Kingston won an Audi TT in the 2002 Alfred Dunhill Championship at Houghton after his pulled 4-iron shot to the 15th struck bluegum trees on the left of the green, and rebounded into the hole.
Ben Fouchee won 1000 cases of Bell’s whisky in the 1991 Bell’s Cup at Mowbray when he aced the 16th hole. The prize was worth more than the winner of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit earned that summer.
When Danie Calitz had an ace on the 16th at Hermanus in September 2013 he and his three playing partners each won a set of clubs from Adams Golf, who had set up a product demonstration on the tee. It was a first-ever ace for 28-year-old Calitz, who had lost an eye in a freak golfing incident in 2005. A stone flew into his left eye while hitting on the practice range.
Sunshine Tour pro Andre Cruse won two cars for aces in consecutive years at the Zambian Open in Lusaka in 2001 and 2002.
Unusual prizes: Sunshine Tour pro Ruan de Smidt won 8 VIP tickets for a rugby test after an ace at Simola in 2012. Bryce Easton won a million Hilton Hotel points with an ace in the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington
FIVE ACES AT BENONI LAKE
The drinks were flowing at Benoni Lake on August 2, 1997 when five aces were recorded. Three in the morning, by Richard du Toit (5), Marius Oelofse (9) and Stewart Brown (13), and two in the afternoon, by Gert Victor (9) and Wilf Dubowitz (13).
At CMR Golf Club on the morning of December 19, 2002, there were three aces in the space of minutes by players from the “Fossils” school, two by Frank Egerton and Doug Walsh at the 14th. Ken Jacques then holed out at No 17.
Westlake Golf Club claimed a world record in May 1961 when three of their members had aces at 3 different holes in the space of 90 minutes during a Saturday afternoon monthly medal.
There were five holes-in-one during the 2014 Mid-Amateur Interprovincial at Middelburg GC in Mpumalanga. Three of them were on day four, by Sunil Pillay (Border), Michael Holden (EP) and Gerlou Roux (WP), and others by Danie van Vuuren (North West) and Marius Nel (Free State).
Three aces were recorded in one day at the 1984 SA Amateur at Humewood, and four aces during the 2005 Nashua Masters at the Wild Coast. The busiest year for aces on the Sunshine Tour was 2009 when there were 18.
David Melman, a renowned Long Driving competitor, today the Golf manager at Huddle Park, aced the 351-metre par-4 fourth hole at Oppenheimer Park in Welkom in 2001. This is thought to be the longest ace in South Africa.
Doug van Breda from Port Elizabeth, on a windy day at Humewood, aced the 350-metre ninth with a strong tailwind in October 2017. (See story on 1-2-3-4 by a fourball at the same hole.)
Lee Bray, in June 2012, holed out on the 343-metre 17th hole at Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate.
Brendan Janse van Rensburg (Klerksdorp) made an unlikely ace on the 341-metre par-4 fourth hole at Vaal de Grace in April 2008.
Stephen Watson, an amateur long drive competitor, aced a hole which no longer exists at Eagle Canyon golf estate. In 2005, the year the course opened, Watson holed out with his drive on the original 330-metre 12th. However, the green was thought to be poorly positioned, and a new green was subsequently built, extending the hole to 440 metres.
Ian Geringer, the golf director at Highland Gate in Mpumalanga, holed out on the par-4 sixth hole at the Ernie Els design, a distance of 324 metres from the red tees, in November 2018.
Brendon Mossop, a junior golfer at Centurion, aced the 311-metre 14th at his home club in September 2011.
Mbombela member Shaun Theron holed out on the 295-metre 11th hole at his home course on August 3, 2016. It’s an uphill short par 4 and requires a powerful drive over trees right of the fairway to reach the green.
Derick Bolton, former greenkeeper at Arabella, became the second person in 20 years to ace the resort’s par-4 ninth hole on November 23, 2020, using a 3-wood off the white club tees from 251 metres. Bolton founded Southern Turf Management in 2003, one of the premier turf companies in South Africa, serving several golf courses. The only other ace at No 9 was by Pieter Belbtman.
John Bland, who has had a remarkable 33 holes-in-one in over a half-century of playing golf as a professional (including three in 2020 at Fancourt), aced the 296-metre par-4 tenth hole at ERPM in a Friday School match in November 1981, striking a long drive over an oak tree directly at the green. No one knew where the ball had finished, and his opponent Arthur Jacob hit his second shot next to the pin, for a tap-in birdie with a shot. Only then did they find Bland’s ball, so a 2 lost to a 1.
Jeff Clause, while golf director at Pezula, aced the 266-metre par-4 17th hole in 2001.
Cricketing legend Jacques Kallis, a club member at Durbanville GC, drove the green and holed out for an albatross 1 on the 293-metre second hole on November 13, 2019 in a club competition.
ACES AT A FAMOUS PAR 4
The most famous short par 4 in South Africa is the 269-metre 18th at Durban Country Club.
While the first ace recorded on the hole was by a member (EE Wooler) in 1931, they were extremely rare occurrences during the club’s first 70 years. The second came in 1957, a third in 1959, and a fourth in 1985. However, since 1994 there have been 10 aces at No 18, reflecting how the evolution of the golf ball and equipment technology has turned the hole into a long par 3 by the standards of today’s golfers. No professional has ever made an ace in a tournament at Durban CC, and the first hole-in-one in an official club competition only came in 2003 by 14-year-old Gareth Gobey. He won the Stuart Prize from a fund set up in 1931.
1-2-3-4 ON A PAR 4
At Durban CC on April 21, 1994, Terry Weddell had a hole-in-one on the 18th, and among the other members of his fourball, club pro Hugh Inggs chipped in for an eagle 2, Iain McLean made birdie 3, and Alan Auret a par 4.
At Humewood on October 4, 2017, Doug van Breda had a hole-in-one on the 350-metre ninth, playing downwind. In his fourball, Ryno Coetzee chipped in for an eagle 2, Eastern Province golfer Naldo Claassen made a birdie 3, and Gerhard Fourie a par 4.
Four East London Golf Club members had a unique moment at the club’s 282-metre fifth hole in August 2006. Sunil Pillay, a scratch handicap, hit a 3-wood over the ridge on this blind hole, the ball finishing 20 centimetres from the cup, a tap-in eagle. His brother Udesh, a 4-handicap, used his driver and holed out for an ace. The next golfer, Russell Gardner, put his tee shot on the green and two-putted for birdie. At that stage it was 1-2-3 in scores, but the sequence of 1-2-3-4 failed when the fourth player three-putted.
OTHER UNUSUAL FEATS
Martin James had a round to remember at Krugersdorp GC in the 1970s, making an albatross, eagle, birdie and par on each of the club’s par-5 holes.
Houghton club champion Nic Mycroft went 6-under for three remarkable holes at Houghton in September 2017, an albatross two at No 5, eagle two at No 6, and birdie two at No 7.
At Kloof CC in July 2006, Bradley Grant had three consecutive eagles. He holed a bunker shot for 3 at the fifth, aced the sixth with a 6-iron, and then hit an 8-iron close at the uphill par-5 seventh for a tap-in 3.
Odds on having a hole-in-one
Tour player having an ace
Odds: 3 000 to 1
Rounds needed to do it: 900
Low-handicap golfer having an ace
Odds: 5 000 to 1
Rounds needed to do it: 1 250
Average golfer having ace
Odds: 12 000 to 1
Rounds needed to do it: 3 000
Two average players, same fourball, acing same hole
Odds: 17 million to 1
Rounds needed: 17 million
Low-handicap making two aces in same round
Odds: 67 million to 1
Rounds needed: 67 million
Low-handicap making an ace at least once in a 1 000-round career
Odds: 1 chance in 5
Low-handicap making an ace at least once in a 5 000-round career
TIPS ON MAKING AN ACE
Try teeing up your ball on a particular side of the tee box when you’re playing par 3s. If you draw or hook the ball, go to the left side of the tee and draw it from the fat part of the green into the hole. If you fade or slice it, tee off from the right side and aim left of the hole.
Amateurs tend to come up short with a lot of their shots. On par 3s take one more club than you think is necessary, tee the ball low and swing smoothly.
(PGA pro with 50 aces)
Try hitting your iron shots without using a tee. You don’t tee up on the fairways, so why mess with your usual method? Second, aim straight at the flagstick. It makes you focus on the hole.