It's impossible to say how common holes in one were before the turn of the century. There was no Golf Digest, after all, and the Brits have never celebrated the ace as much as Americans have. During a practice round at Scotland's Carnoustie the week before the 1975 British Open, Weiskopf was amazed when his windblown ace at number 8 received so little reaction from the gallery.
"Didn't you see my ball go in?" he asked two elderly Scots who were camped at the back of the green on sit sticks.
"Aye, laddie," said one.
"And you didn't even clap?" said Weiskopf.
"Boot laddie," said the other, "it didn't coont now, did it?"
Weiskopf's 16 career aces are 16 more than the immortal Bobby Jones scored, at least according to the record books. However, Jones, who died in 1971, said he had two unofficial holes in one, the first on the 11th at East Lake in Atlanta and the other at the Augusta Country Club, not to be confused with Augusta National, which he cofounded. Jones also made a number of eagles and double eagles. "All these things, of course, were nothing but luck," he wrote more than 30 years ago to Ian Woolridge of the London Daily Mail. "I got a bigger kick when the ball stopped close."
That sounds like something Ben Hogan, who had four holes in one (none in competition) during his legendary career, would say. "I would've had more," Hogan once said, "but I rarely aimed at the flag. I aimed at the spot where I had the best birdie opportunity." The best Hogan hole-in-one story is from the 1947 Masters, at which he was paired with Claude Harmon during a practice round. On the celebrated 145-yard 12th, Harmon knocked his tee shot into the cup. As the crowd cheered wildly, Hogan remained stoic and put his tee shot eight feet from the cup. The roar for Harmon's feat increased as the players approached the green, but Hogan still said nothing. When Harmon lifted his ball from the cup, there was another cheer. Hogan studied his line. After he had made the putt for a birdie, and after he had hit his drive on 13, Hogan finally spoke.
"You know back there on the 12th hole...."
"Yes?" said Harmon.
"I've been thinking. I believe that's the first time I ever birdied that hole."