A hole new insurance policy

Golf ball

The British Open tees off in Carnoustie on Thursday.
As the world’s finest golfers tee off for the 136th British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, this Thursday, thousands of keen amateurs will take to courses around the UK hoping to emulate their heroes.

And many of them will be looking to claim their very own piece of golfing elitism – a hole in one.

Which is why, more and more, charity golf organisers are buying insurance in the event that a participant “holes out”. After all, whatever your ability, one lucky shot is all that is needed, and even a golfer who has a poor overall score can still win a major prize when he or she achieves such a feat.

“Hole-in-one insurance has become very popular,” says Chris Darbon, General Manager of the National Hole-in-One Association, a coverholder for the Lloyd's syndicate managed by insurer Brit.

“Organisers of corporate golf days like to add an extra sparkle to the event with a hole-in-one prize. Ninety-nine times out of 100, it’s a car of some sort.”

Charity golf days are usually sponsored, so a car dealership will often cover the insurance premium as a bonus for the lucky player. To enhance the deal, if a company offers the prize for one hole, the National Hole-in-One Association will put up prizes on three other par 3 holes around the course.

The premium for hole-in-one insurance varies from event to event, and is dependent on three factors; the number of players, the hole yardage and the prize value.

“Hole-in-ones are very random events. Sometimes you have to wait a whole month for one, but we have had three in a single day before,” says Darbon, who recalls a lucky winner from the past.

“The most famous winner in the UK was Derek Lawrenson, a freelance golf reporter who was invited to play in an event with the England World Cup football squad in 1998.”

Teaming up with Paul Ince and Steve McManaman, Lawrenson hit a hole-in-one at the 15th at the Mill Ride course in Ascot, Berkshire. His prize? A £185,000 Lamborghini Diablo.

But there’s a catch. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which is essentially the world governing body for amateur golf excluding the US and Mexico, states that if you accept a hole-in-one prize of above £500, you lose your amateur status.

“Derek Lawrenson lost his amateur status for three years,” adds Darbon. “He sold the car after three months for £125,000."

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