The odds of making a golf-simulator hole in one? We mined the data

jersey jerry of barstool sports making a hole in one

After 2,726 swings earlier this week, Jersey Jerry could finally celebrate.

Barstool Sports

Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the whole world did not watch Barstool Sports personality Jersey Jerry’s grueling hole-in-one quest earlier this week. But about 2 million YouTube viewers did, according to Awful Announcing, which, to stay on the geography theme a beat longer, is roughly the population of Slovenia.

So, yeah, a lot of people were invested as Jerry took 2,627 swipes over nearly 40 groan- and curse-filled hours before a tee shot finally, mercifully dropped.

The audience for Jerry’s mission was huge for a number of reasons: (1) Barstool, of course, has a large and loyal following; (2) Jerry’s everyman appeal — he’s built more like John Daly than J.J. Watt and has a swing that suggests he hasn’t spent much time with Butch Harmon — made the challenge deeply relatable; and (3) the simplicity of the stunt itself: make one really good golf swing. One and done.

Trouble is, as golfers of any ability can attest, the more you try — or want — to hit a good shot, the harder the game can become. And Jerry wasn’t just trying to hit a good shot, he was chasing the perfect shot: golf’s holy grail, a hole in one.    

So, exactly how difficult was the task before him? According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of a Tour player making an ace on any given par-3 tee shot are 3,000 to 1; for a low-handicapper, the numbers are 5,000 to 1; while average players — i.e., Jerry — have a 12,000-to-1 chance.

But for the purposes of this exercise, we can pretty much throw those numbers out, because there is an incalculable difference between stepping up to the tee on say, a 193-yard par-3 that you have never played before, and doing what Jerry did: hitting shot after shot from the same tee to the same familiar target in simulated conditions.

Alas, we do have some other data points in the form of other golfers who have undertaken similar ace challenges, beginning with some highly skilled players. In a long-running series, the DP World Tour has invited pros — Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas among them — to various par-3s to see if they can jar a tee shot in 500 tries. Nearly all have failed. Among the exceptions: Scotsman Robert MacIntyre, who in 2022 required only 103 swings to make an ace on a 142-yard par-3 at Pinheiros Altos Golf Club in Portugal.

Amateurs, of course, are better comps for Jerry, and you don’t need to search long or hard on YouTube to find several players who tested their ace-making acumen on simulators long before Jerry did.     

In 2022, Keffer Rhodes, a content creator for Random Golf Club, hopped on a simulator in the company’s Austin headquarters and pledged that he wouldn’t go home until he made a 1. Playing the short par-3 7th at Pebble Beach — the same hole on which Jerry finally made his ace — Rhodes needed 1,736 swings before he converted. That’s roughly 900 fewer balls than Jerry struck.  

jersey jerry of barstool sports trying his hole in one challenge
This guy’s agonizing hole-in-one quest is hard to take your eyes off
By: Alan Bastable

Another golf YouTuber, Josh Mayer, conducted his own version of the challenge just last fall, titling it, “Locked In A Golf Simulator Until I Hit A Hole In One.” Mayer elected to play another short, if tricky, hole — the “Postage Stamp” 8th at Royal Troon — and spiced things up by punishing himself (arm-pit waxing, that sort of thing) after every 100 fruitless swings. Mayer, thankfully for his physical well-being, made an ace on just his 868th shot.     

Then there’s the sweet-swinging crew over at Good Good, who have executed several ace challenges. For one video, the gang took turns hitting 10 shots apiece, rarely missing outside of about a 10-foot radius of the hole. Incredibly, they finished the job on swing No. 119.

But all the YouTubers mentioned above can really play. They’re not representative of the general golf populous and certainly not Jerry. For a better gauge on the likelihood of an average golfer making a sim ace, we asked Golfzon, which makes the unit that Jerry used in Barstool’s Chicago office this week. The company did not yet have 2023 user data available, but it did have some data from 2022.

In that year, a company spokesperson told me, Golfzon users cumulatively made 143,020 holes in one on par-3s in completed 18-hole rounds. The company did not have available the total number of tee shots hit on par-3s, but did say the overall number of shots (putts included) Golfzon users recorded in 2022 was 7,625,909,076.

What does this tell us about Jerry’s feat? Time for some rough back-of-the-napkin math! Assuming the average Golfzon user aligns in ability with the average golfer, he or she would be a 90s-shooter (per USGA handicapping stats) — let’s call it 90 even, the prototypical “bogey golfer,” meaning four shots (including two putts) taken on every par-3; five (including two putts) on every par-4; and six (including two putts) on every par-5. Given most courses have 10 par-4s, 4 par-3s and 4 par-5s, that takes us to 54 non-putt shots per round and 36 putts.

Now, let’s remove the putts from the 7.6 billion. If the above math is even close to accurate, putts would represent 40 percent, or roughly 3 billion, of the total shots recorded on Golfzon sims in 2022. That leaves us with about 4.6 billion non-putts. Again, leaning on the formula above, we can assume that about 22% of those 4.6 billion swings came on the tee at par-3s, which is a little more than 1 billion.

Now we’re getting somewhere! If there were a total of roughly 1 billion tee shots on par-3s and 143,020 holes in one, Golfzon users made an ace, on average, every 6,992 swings.

Jersey Jerry, consider yourself lucky.

Alan Bastable Editor

As’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.