For most golfers the kudos that comes with making a hole-in-one is more than enough incentive. However, making an ace on the European Tour has been known to bring about more than a little prestige. In honour of the 1000th hole-in-one in European Tour history being made at the KLM Open this week, europeantour.com takes a look back some of the more unique prizes to have been offered.
Elliot Saltman might have had his fair share of holes-in-one in 2011, but the prize he won for making an ace at the Madrid Masters will live long in the memory. The Scot achieved the rare feat of two aces in one event earlier in the season at the Wales Open, holing out from the 17th tee during the first and final rounds. However, upon making a hole-in-one at El Encin Golf Hotel, Saltman was rewarded with his weight in Iberico ham. Then weighing 17 stone, Saltman’s prize amounted to €8,000 worth of meat. The 16th hole was offering the more traditional prize of a car for a hole-in-one, but, with nobody making another ace all week, the headlines were well and truly Saltman’s.
A trip to space
As quirky as some hole-in-one prizes can be, most do not require you to leave the planet. The same cannot be said for Andy Sullivan’s reward at the 2014 KLM Open. The Englishman needed just one perfectly executed nine-iron at Kennemer Golf & Country Club’s 163-yard 15th , resulting in the offer to board sponsor XCOR Space Expedition’s flight 330,000ft above the earth’s surface. A large-scale replica of the ship was positioned on the 15th to add as incentive for the week’s field, with Sullivan ultimately the man who would win the chance to take the trip, worth around £60,000. Upon being asked about his unusual prize, Sullivan responded, “I’m not the best flyer in the world.” Needless to say Sullivan has yet to step out of the earth’s gravitational pull…..
168 bottles of Champagne
It’s not much of a surprise to know that Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston was making headlines long before his first European Tour win. Beef triumphed at the 2016 Open de España for his maiden victory, but four years earlier he was drawing attention for winning 168 bottles of Champagne at the 2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. Peter Whiteford repeated the feat the following day, but Beef’s round one heroics saw him claim the sparkling prize, with each bottle representing the yardage of the 11th hole at Castle Stuart Golf Links. Beef followed that hole-in-one prize with another three years later at the BMW PGA Championship, where he won a BMW M4.
A year’s supply of Beer
Wade Ormsby admitted he was still trying to get through his 2015 KLM Open hole-in-one prize prior to this year’s edition beginning…and with good reason. The Australian’s hole-in-one at the 169-yard 11th at Kennemer G&CC earned him a year’s supply of beer courtesy of Warsteiner, the perfect tonic for making a double-bogey on his previous hole. Earlier that day Magnus A Carlsson had made the 40th ace of the 2015 season at the eighth hole, breaking the then-record for most holes-in-one for a European Tour season. Ormsby followed the Swede’s lead with the 41st and earned one of the most alluring prizes ever dished out. How long it took to get the supply to Ormsby’s home in Adelaide is anyone’s guess.
To help mark the 25th anniversary of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2014, organisers offered up a gargantuan $2.5m for the first player to make a hole-in-one at the par four 17th during the closing 36 holes of the event. Playing 325 yards over the weekend, it made history as the biggest hole-in-one prize in history, matching the entire prize fund on offer for the tournament. “I think my caddie will leave with me with the driver and run to the green because he is on ten per cent!” said two-time tournament winner Stephen Gallacher. Disappointingly, despite many efforts over the weekend that year, no one succeeded in scooping the cash.
A lamp (and an expensive car)
Graeme Storm has won a couple of interesting hole-in-one prizes during his European Tour career. In addition to the $100,000 BMW i8 he won at the 2014 Omega European Masters, the Englishman also once won a special Moroccan lamp for an ace at the Trophee Hassan II. “I have still got it,” said Storm. “It was nice to win it but it’s in my garage and is unlikely to come out.”
A certain glamour comes with some of the hole-in-one prizes already mentioned. However, sometimes practicality comes into the equation. During the 2013 Volvo Golf Champions, a Volvo excavator was up for grabs on the 15th hole for an ace, the ideal prize for those golfers seeking a little recreational renovation. Nobody made a hole-in-one, but that does not mean it wasn’t ultimately claimed. Louis Oosthuizen coveted the excavator with such enthusiasm that he convinced the hosts to allow him to swap his Pro-Am prize of a car for the hole-in-one prize. The 2010 Open Champion said afterwards, “I’m going to play around with it and might dig out a few bunkers.”
At the 2015 Thailand Classic, Panuphol Pittayarat holed out at the 201-yard par three 14th at Black Mountain Golf Club to win the keys to a brand new townhouse – worth 12m baht (€300,000) – situated on the course. “I feel like I’ve won this golf tournament,” said the Thai golfer after winning the four-storey, three-bedroom house, despite missing the cut. “I’ve seen the pictures and now it’s mine!”