Perhaps the most iconic shot in all of golf is the ace. The creme de la creme – true perfection. Realistically, a vast majority of golfers will fail to pull off this amazing achievement. While pros such as Robert Allenby and Hal Sutton have an astounding 10 aces under their belt1, the odds of actually making one are 1 in 12,5002. Recognizing the staggering amount of golfers who have not yet made an ace (myself included), it is important we realize some of the favorable aspects of living an ace-less life.
…making one “Has got to be luck… it has to be.”Collin Morikawa
But who is actually capable of making an ace, and how much does skill factor into beating these seemingly insurmountable odds? Common belief would have it that pro golfers are usually those among us who’ve accomplished this feat. While this is normally true, it doesn’t mean luck is absent in the process. While ultimately failing to make an ace during the Taylormade series of ACE CAM, Collin Morikawa claimed that actually making one “Has got to be luck… it has to be.” So is it that professionals are consistently luckier than the average golfer? Not entirely. Rather, it’s a complex equilibrium between luck and skill in which pros’ honed-in talent allows them to hit balls to places on the green where they’re more likely to ‘get lucky.’
Despite their amateur status, even the average golfer is capable of hitting a perfect shot. When taken in its most literal sense, the perfect golf shot can simply be defined as one that goes in the hole. Yes, this means that even a tap-in is technically a perfect shot. An ace, however, is a much more special kind of perfect shot than a short putt. This has got to be a good thing, right? Well…. not necessarily. When one has reached a pinnacle, where are they to go? If a golfer wishes to stay at their pinnacle after they make an ace, they ought to simply walk off the course and never play again. That doesn’t seem too realistic. The only feasible thing a golfer can do (and for all intents and purposes will do) is to finish up their round. Unfortunately, the only way off an ‘ace pinnacle’ is downwards. As there are thousands of people who have yet to reach their own ‘ace pinnacle’ of sorts, it can be relieving to know that a peak of theirs is yet to come.
In the world of golf, there are those who have made an ace and those who haven’t. The ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ are two massively different groups, separated only by one swing on a par three. Regardless of luck or skill, however, it is impossible to blur the boundary between these two distinct groups. Within the time the ball has flown from the tee, hit the green, and made its way to the bottom of the cup, an irreversible transition between the more common ‘have nots’ to the lesser ‘haves’ takes place. Leaving behind this band of brothers and sisters, all united in their ace-lesness, ought to bring the newly aced golfer to an isolated place. Residing at the pinnacle of golf, I can’t help but wonder if it gets lonely at the top.
Regardless of how perfect a shot is, golf is ultimately a game of firsts. I would like to think that most people remember a lot of their firsts in golf; first par, birdie, eagle… perhaps even ace? All of these ‘firsts’, and the reason they are so ingrained in our golfing memories, is because they are times when we have temporarily ‘won’ the chase. In life, as in golf, many pleasures are that much amplified when we have worked and struggled to get there. I can’t remember how many balls I lost before I made my first par – making it that much more enjoyable when it finally happened. In a way, every time we step onto the tee box of a par-three we are further extenuating this chase. Not making an ace, in the short term, is viewed in an unfavorable light; hopefully quickly remedied by par or birdie. Yet every missed ace opportunity only adds to our everlasting chase. We end up wanting something more because it is so elusive. For those who are lucky enough to have an ace come their way, all of their failed attempts must make the real thing feel that much better.
For a majority of us, actually making an ace revolves largely around hoping, dreaming, and wishing – just as golf would have it.
I want to be clear here in the fact that this rationale is by no way intended to minimize the excitement and sheer awesomeness of making an ace. Although I (jealously) cannot relate to this feeling, I’m sure it is matched by little else. Regrettably, some of us will forever be on this chase and seek no pleasure from all of our lost attempts. Interestingly enough, however, the moment a golfer makes an ace, the perpetuated chase is over – the dream dies. For a majority of us, actually making an ace revolves largely around hoping, dreaming, and wishing – just as golf would have it.
Why golfers in NYC are some of the most committed golfers in the world
Harris is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis with passions for both medical sciences and the golfing world. He is an avid follower of the PGA Tour and almost any content that is golf-related. From the Courses at Forest Park to Montauk Downs, he can always be found working on his game when he’s not in class. Keen to meet new people, Harris hopes to help grow the game of golf.