For chartered accountant and golfer Chir Louw, 2017 started on a high note.

After playing golf for over 20 years, he finally hit his first hole-in-one on the 14th hole of Wingate Park in Pretoria on January 2.

Louw, who played nine holes almost every day during his high school years, estimates that he played roughly 5 000 par 3s before, but the elusive ace just remained out of reach.

Even among the professional golfing community, there are individuals who haven’t hit a hole-in-one.

Since his shot followed so shortly after the New Year’s celebrations, the club was fairly quiet and the traditional round of drinks he had to buy for everyone at the clubhouse only set him back about R800. In some instances, these 19th hole bills can run into thousands of rands.

While many people are not aware that their insurance policies may include hole-in-one cover, Lady Luck was on his side. His dad, an attorney with two aces to his name and one of the few people who reads the fine print in contracts, told him that he could submit a claim to his insurer, who paid him a fixed amount for the shot.

But why would an insurer provide cover for such a joyful event? Insurance is typically considered a grudge purchase that only kicks in when misfortune strikes?

Marius Neethling, manager for personal lines underwriting at Santam, says although hole-in-one insurance is not the traditional cover that short-term insurance companies offer, statistics show that the chance of getting a hole-in-one is 12 500 to 1.

“One can thus state that it is an unforeseen event that causes an expense to the client, although the client has done nothing wrong,” he says.

Santam processed only 189 such claims in 2016 and 274 in 2017 (by late December). Discovery Insure did not want to divulge specific numbers.

Hole-in-one cover has been part of Santam’s policy since the origin of Multiplex in the late 1970s. It is sold as part of home insurance cover and clients automatically qualify for it.

“It is not sold at all as a separate product,” Neethling says.

At Discovery Insure, the benefit is offered as part of its personal liability cover, Precious Nduli, head of technical marketing, says.

“The benefit covers the client if they score a hole-in-one as an amateur player in accordance with the rules of any recognised golf club in South Africa. Personal liability is available on all plans and the client does not necessarily have to have home contents insurance (i.e. they can have vehicle cover).”

Nduli says golf club rules require that the person who has scored a hole-in-one buys a round of drinks for members of the club, which can come as an unexpected cost that can set a client back financially, depending on the number of people or size of the club.

Discovery Insure pays a fixed amount based on the chosen plan.

Santam pays a single amount of R2 000, regardless of the size of the liquor bill.

To qualify for the payment mentioned in the policy summary, the hole-in-one must be made while playing as an amateur golfer, Neethling says.

“In order to receive the compensation, you must get the spot while playing on a registered golf course under the recognised rules of the game.”

The secretary of the golf club where the shot was played must also confirm it in writing.

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