The Weird Japanese Hole-In-One Tradition

By Michael Van Duisen on Monday, September 9, 2013
golf
“The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” —Gary Player

In A Nutshell

In Japan, avid golfers buy insurance to protect themselves on the course; however, it’s not for what you might think. They purchase it because if they get a hole-in-one, they have to buy gifts and drinks for their friends. The policy covers them for a party worth up to $3,000, for the low price of $65 a year.

The Whole Bushel

Japan is a land rich in tradition. You’ve got your Shinto shrines, sumo, samurai, and much more. The people also take golf very seriously, especially that rarest of happenings: the hole-in-one. In most countries, the golfer who hits the lucky stroke is rewarded, usually with drinks from his friends. In Japan, they take a different view: The golfer who gets a hole-in-one is obliged to throw a lavish party for his golfing buddies and his other friends, which can run as high as $10,000.

At its peak in the economic boom of the 1980s, Japanese hole-in-one parties consisted of a number of gifts, food, and drinks, given away by the “lucky” golfer. (They have toned it down a bit since then.) Because these can be so costly, insurance companies saw a market which had yet to be entered. They began offering policies on the off chance the golfers hit a hole-in-one. Starting at $65 a year, they cover a party up to $3,000. The insurance is extremely popular, as nearly 4 million Japanese amateur golfers own policies. (That’s nearly 40 percent of all the golfers in Japan.)

First established by Kyoei Mutual Fire and Marine Insurance Co. in 1982, the policies are now offered by at least 30 different firms. It’s also an extremely profitable business, as a hole-in-one is quite rare, and the market is valued at $220 million per year. (The insurance companies in Japan estimate that a hole-in-one occurs once in every 10,700 rounds of golf.) Seemingly open to deception, the insurance companies have a number of strict rules for when a hole-in-one can be claimed, such as the number of golfers in the party and the course size.

Show Me The Proof

A hole-in-one in Japan can cost you $10,000
Golfing in Japan
Hole-in-one insurance popular among tradition-rich Japanese golfers

  • Russia

    in russia we play with bombs

    • g.g.palin

      In Russia golf plays you.

  • TheLesserWeevil

    It sounds extremely easy to scam the insurance company with this, though I suppose the Japanese are too honourable for that.

    What i’d like to know is – What happens when you get more than one hole in one in the same game? And what the hell happens to professional golfers playing in Japan? I’m sure Tiger Woods has had to pay for many a lavish party in his time.

    • TennisonD

      It’s a lot harder than you would think. I think tiger has only had about 17 or 18 hole-in-one through out his career

      • rick

        tiger has only had 3 total, since 1992

  • Jen

    uh, tai-chi ain’t japanese, dude. Also, Shintoism has shrines, Buddhism has temples 🙂

    • Michael Van Duisen

      Thanks. I don’t know how that snuck in there. (I’ll try to pay more attention.)

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    7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that
    all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is
    an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom
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    7:15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and
    the visions of my head troubled me.
    7:16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the
    truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation
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    7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall
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    7:18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and
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    7:19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was
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    iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and
    stamped the residue with his feet; 7:20 And of the ten horns that were
    in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three
    fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very
    great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

  • disqus_tirhj8mEi6

    Two Wong’s don’t make a Right………lol

    • Mardian Nugro

      that’s chinese..

    • DarthPoot

      Do it the white way, not the wong way…

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