Arnold Palmer's Holes-in-One: Career Total, Aces on Tour and More

How many holes-in-one did Arnold Palmer make over the course of his lifetime in golf? Quite a few! And some of them happened on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. Two of them even happened in back-to-back rounds of a pro tournament.

Number of Palmer's career holes-in-one: Palmer is believed to have made 20 aces. We say "believed" because, as the official Arnie website (arnoldpalmer.com) puts it, Palmer wasn't very good about remembering those that happened outside of competition. But 20 is the number that is settled upon.

When did he make his first ace? An example of Palmer not remembering his aces well is the fact that he didn't remember the exact occurrence of his first-ever hole-in-one. He recalled that it happened in high school (so the mid-1940s), and was on the second hole at his home course, Latrobe Country Club in Pennsylvania. That's a hole on which he ultimately recorded four holes-in-one, the last in 1997.

Palmer's last ace and a few other tidbits: He scored an ace while serving in the Coast Guard in 1953. He had three aces during the year 1965. He made a hole-in-one during an exhibition match against Jack Nicklaus in 1966 in Wilmington, Delaware. And his last hole-in-one? That happened when he was 82 years old, in 2011, on the No. 7 hole at Bay Hill Club's Charger Course.

Palmer's Holes-in-One in Tour Events

PGA Tour: 2 Aces

  • 1959 Tournament of Champions: In the first round at Desert Inn Country Club in Las Vegas, Palmer aced the 163-yard No. 16 hole. He carded a score of 70 that day and went on to finish tied for 13th place. News accounts called it his first hole-in-one since he turned pro in 1954.
  • 1980 Bob Hope Desert Classic: At age 50, Palmer aced the 150-yard No. 6 hole at Indian Wells. News accounts pegged it as his 10th career ace. It happened during the first round, in which Palmer shot 70, but he missed the cut following the fourth round of the five-round tournament.
Some sources, including the PGA Tour, say that Palmer also made a hole-in-one during the 1965 Pensacola Open Invitational. But based on our research, we believe that is a mistake. Palmer did record an ace that week, but it was during the Wednesday pro-am round, not in the tournament proper. In the pro-am prior to the first round, at Pensacola Country Club, Palmer aced the 140-yard 11th hole, using an 8-iron.

Champions Tour: 2 Aces

  • 1990 PaineWebber Invitational: Palmer aced the 186-yard 12th hole in the first round, in which he shot 70. He finished tied for 36th place. According to news accounts of the shot, it was his 15th career hole-in-one.
  • 1992 GTE Northwest Classic: Identified by news accounts as his 16th ace, Palmer scored this one when he was 62 years old. It happened on the 193-yard No. 8 hole and Palmer used a 3-iron. He finished the tournament tied for 14th place.

Arnie's Most-Amazing Aces

What were Arnold Palmer's most-amazing aces? Two identical holes-in-one he made on consecutive days during a competition in 1986. The tournament was the Chrysler Cup, an unofficial-money senior tournament (meaning it was not a Champions Tour event) in which two teams representing the United States and an International side played stroke-play matches.

On Sept. 2, 1986, Palmer aced the 182-yard No. 3 hole at TPC Avenal in Maryland, using a 5-iron. Exciting, but what makes it amazing?

On Sept. 3, 1986, Palmer did it again. On the third hold, using the same club from the same yardage, Palmer made another hole-in-one. Same hole, same club, two holes-in-one in back-to-back rounds on consecutive days.

The famous Washington Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell calculated the odds, and determined doing what Palmer did was a 10 million-to-1 achievement. According to news accounts at the time, it was then believed to be the first time in any pro tournament in the United States that the same golfer aced the same hole on consecutive days during competition.

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