In A Nutshell
In 2001, Andrew Magee became the only golfer in the history of the PGA Tour to sink a hole-in-one on a par 4. It wouldn’t have happened had the previous golfer’s putter not been laying on the green: The ball deflected off of it.
The Whole Bushel
For the uninitiated, the par rating on a golf hole corresponds to the number of strokes the average golfer should take to reach the hole. To maintain an even score, one must reach a par 3 in three strokes, a par 4 in four strokes, and so on.
Holes-in-one are obviously, then, only achieved on par-3 holes: They’re the shortest holes on the course, reachable in the fewest number of strokes. (Well, that’s not entirely accurate—while some par 4 holes are technically shorter, hazards and other environmental conditions like steep declines, uphills or doglegs will combine to justify the extra stroke.) On the PGA Tour, no hole-in-one had ever been achieved on a par 4—until 2001, when Andrew Magee did it with a little incidental help from his competition.
On the 304-meter (332 yd) 17th hole at The Players’ Club Scottsdale, Magee said he had a little trepidation—his previous drive had gone into the water, and he wasn’t even necessarily trying to make it onto the green. “I wasn’t expecting much,” he said. “But I just killed it straight at the hole.”
Fellow competitor Tom Byrum was still playing the green, squatting down with his putter next to him sizing up a putt when Magee’s drive suddenly arrived. Those watching say Byrum’s putter was about 2.4 meters (eight feet) from the hole; the ball clinked off of it, causing a slight change in direction—right into the hole.
It was later determined that no rule infraction had occurred. The applicable rule states that “If a player’s ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by an opponent, his caddie or his equipment, no penalty is incurred.” The golfer may, in such instances, choose to either play the ball from where the deflection happened or where it lies. Magee chose the latter, as the ball’s current lie—at the bottom of the cup—gave him three strokes on his scorecard and a historic sports feat that may never be matched.