The Science Behind a Hole-in-One


There are approximately 450 million rounds of golf played in the United States per year. Of all these rounds, a hole-in-one will be scored once every 3,500 games. That means that only 1-2% of golfers will have a hole-in-one each year. 

Many people will golf their whole life and never have a hole-in-one. Despite skill and accuracy, this is something that is unattainable for many players. However, this was not the case for 11-year old Jake Martinez of Tucson, Arizona. He made not one but two hole-in-ones during a single round of the U.S Kids Tournament.  

11-year-old does the near impossible: Makes two holes-in-one in one U.S. Kids tournament round

This article was originally published by Keely Levins on GolfDigest 

As a few of us on the Golf Digest staff know all too well, the quest for a player’s first hole-in-one can take years, decades, an entire golf lifetime. But it turns out, some players don’t have to wait very long at all for their first ace. Or their second.

Jake Martinez, an 11-year-old from Tucson, made two holes-in-one on Saturday at the Palm Springs Open, a U.S. Kids Golf tournament. According to the National Hole In One Registry, the chances of that happening are 1 in 67 million.

It was the first round of the two-round tournament at Weston Mission Hills, and Martinez hadn’t started off with his best stuff. He double bogeyed the first and the third holes. Standing on the fifth tee, he had 95 yards to the pin. He turned to his caddie.

“My dad said, ‘Hey, let’s hit a pitching wedge,’” Martinez recounted in a post-round interview, which was eloquent enough to sound like it came out of a tour event instead of a U.S. Kids tournament.

“It takes one hop, and it went in,” the young lefty said. “We’re all shocked.”

Martinez continued on and came to the par-3 12th hole.

“It’s 100 yards, so I hit pitching wedge again,” Martinez said. “My dad says the exact same thing, aim left, try to draw it in there. It does the same exact thing as the last one, it hits and then it drops. We were all just in awe.”

He finished with a 74.

“I just want to get more tomorrow,” Martinez said, laughing.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any more holes-in-one for Martinez during the second round. He finished with a 76 on Day 2, ultimately securing 14th place in the tournament.

Sure, getting the win would’ve been nice. But checking off your first—and then second—holes-in-one is a nice consolation.

Science Behind a Hole-in-One

In the STEM Sports® K-2 Multi-Sport curriculum, students use the Engineering Design Process (EDP) to design a solution for the problem of the ball not going in the hole. This lesson aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and National Standards for K-12 Physical Education Connections, while also giving students an inside look at the science behind golf. 

After practicing putting to get a hands-on idea of why the ball doesn’t always go into the hole, students are tasked with using their creativity and the EDP to create their own golf hole. They can then compare their hole with their fellow classmates in order to see the strengths and weaknesses in their own design. By the end of this lesson, students will have a better understanding of why hole-in-ones are so rare. 

When architects are creating golf courses, there is science, engineering, and math behind the entire design. The angle of the putting greens is one notable way that they make hole-in-ones few and far between. Although many greens look flat, there are usually curves, dips, and undulations. When gravity is added to the equation, the ball will break in different directions- making putting a difficult part of golf. 

Bob Jones, considered one of the best amateur golfers in history, said, “Once a golfer has the ball on the green, hitting for speed and distance is no longer the objective. Now the goal is to hit the ball in such a way that it will go into the hole. And that takes knowledge of science”. 

Jones’ statement encompasses the STEM Sports® mission. There is science, technology, engineering, and math behind everything! Showing this to students will not only help them in day-to-day sports but gives them a tangible reason as to “why” they are learning about these STEM concepts.

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