Perusing the LIV Golf media guide this week, I stumbled across a shocking factoid that is, frankly, tough to believe. Phil Mickelson claims to have made 47 holes in one across his lifetime as a golfer. Forty-Seven! Mickelson is 53 years old, which means he has apparently averaged one ace every year since he was 6 years old.
Other notables in the guide include Lee Westwood (24!), Dustin Johnson (14), Tyrrell Hatton (11) and Jon Rahm (8). But ... 47?! Even with Mickelson being completely obsessed with golf, older than all of those guys listed and having been a professional for three decades, is 47 aces even feasible?
Let's start with aces in competition.
The PGA Tour media guide lists Mickelson as having made five during his time on the Tour. We have video evidence of at least one from the European Tour. So, it's safe to say that -- between junior events, college tournaments and all his professional golf -- Mickelson has made close to 10 or so aces in competition. Maybe a few more, perhaps a few less. But somewhere around that number is a safe bet.
That still leaves 37 (!) unaccounted.
Phil has clearly played plenty of golf on his own. Between practice, money games and casual rounds, he has hit an inconceivable number of shots across his career. A quick Google search discloses that tour pros make an ace one out of ever 3,000 holes played, but Mickelson is no regular tour pro. He's one of the best to ever play, especially with his irons. Let's pull that number down to one out of every 2,500 holes.
That means he would have needed to play just over 600 non-tournament rounds per year to get to the 2,500 par 3s needed to make one ace annually. (Unless he's just sitting on par 3s all day hitting shots, which I suppose is not out of the question.)
It would be a bit odd and unconventional, but again, we're dealing with a man who leveraged the Saudi Arabian government to start a rogue golf league because he thought the PGA Tour was not sharing non-fungible token revenue properly.
Anyway, let's say he's not sitting on par 3s all day, and the par 3s he plays are during the course of regular rounds. If he played 600 or so non-tournament rounds every year since he was 16, he feasibly could have made 37 aces outside of competition. Given how many tournament rounds he plays (100 or more in a given year), 600 non-tournament rounds a year probably works out to more than two a day, which is a lot.
The math can at least get you close. But again, 47 is a ton of aces.
Tiger Woods has just two in PGA Tour tournament play. The record on the PGA Tour (since it began keeping track in 1983) is 10 by Hal Sutton and Robert Allenby. Rickie Fowler has just three on the PGA Tour. Xander Schauffele has one. Rory McIlroy has one as well.
A man named Mancil Davis, who is a former PGA pro and had a moment on the PGA Tour, claims to have made 51 aces in his career. There is work to be done for Mickelson.
Of course, if Mickelson is counting 1s from places like Jim Nantz's backyard then it's easier to see how 47 is attainable for a six-time major winner.