Simple steps that can help prevent complex problems.

We all know how exciting it is when someone scores a hole-in-one at a golf tournament and wins a new car or some other fabulous prize. As a business person you have an interesting opportunity to not only advertise your product and promote your business, but to also help charities and other local groups make their golf tournaments extra special.

OK, you already know this, but what if something should go wrong? Whether you elect to self-insure these events, or purchase coverage from an insurance provider, there are potential problem areas should someone win and claim their prize.


  • Nine hole course. Players play each nine twice. Players are not informed that the hole-in-one prize is only offered the first time they play the target hole. A person scores a hole-in-one on the second round.
  • The tournament sells “mulligans”. A hole-in-one is scored on the contestant’s second shot.
  • Women contestants are not informed that they must play from the men’s tee blocks on the target hole.
  • The sign advertising the hole-in-one prize is left standing at the target hole after the event. Someone makes a hole-in-one the next day and claims the prize.
  • The golf course puts the prize on the wrong hole.
  • The yardage of the target hole is to be 165 yards. On the day of the event the golf course maintenance crew moves the tee blocks forward to help speed up play.
  • The witness or witnesses were not in position to see the hole-in-one occur.
  • The number of tournament participants exceeded the policy limit.

These examples are not hypothetical situations. Each one of them has been litigated at one time or another. In each case the claimant prevailed in court and either the prize sponsor or the tournament was required to pay. Sometimes the hole-in-one insurance provider will stand the loss, but in most cases they are well within their rights to deny the claim. Each of the examples above clearly violates the terms and conditions of most hole-in-one insurance policies. Unfortunately, this puts you, the prize sponsor, in an uncomfortable position to say the least. In general terms, rewards are enforceable when they require something of the winner and if the winner acted for the sake of the reward.

Now that we have succeeded in scaring you to death, we would like to point out that these incidents are rare and can be easily prevented. We have been providing hole-in-one coverage for over 30 years. When we started as the Sports Achievements Association in 1977, very few golf tournaments offered these types of prizes, today you can find very few that don’t. We have processed thousands of claims. Most have gone smoothly. We take steps to avoid problems before they arise. In this way, we not only protect our own interests, but those of our clients as well. Experience is a good teacher. Let us offer a few suggestions that will enable you to rest easy and make these events pleasant ones for all parties involved.

First – Read the Hole-in-One Agreement carefully if you are using an insurance provider. You can find our terms at They are fairly representative. Make especially sure that the golf tournament committee agrees to the terms before offering the prize. A written agreement is not a bad idea. At minimum the tournament committee should be given copies of both the insurance contract and hole-in-one agreement.

Second – Be certain that the witness and yardage requirements are met. This is important.

Third – To help alleviate potential problems, we send each golf course a notification that specifies which prizes will go on which hole along with the yardages. We also ask them to contact us should there be last minute signups so we can adjust our contract accordingly. Also, we allow women to play the women’s tee blocks assuming they are no more than 20 yards closer to the target hole than the men’s. We don’t want the lady’s to get upset.

Fourth – Consider making the golf tournament the prize sponsor on the insurance contract. We have found that claimants are reluctant to sue the event itself, but have no problem suing a third party.

Fifth – Make payment to your coverage provider before the event. No point in giving them an out.

Sixth – Even though we ask the golf course to collect the promotional signage immediately after the event, it doesn’t hurt to double check that this has been done. You may want to ask the Target Hole witness(es) to bring in the sign after the final group plays the hole.

One last point, should you purchase coverage or go it on your own? In some cases it makes sense to self insure, especially if you do not want to offer bonus prizes and you have your own signage. A lot will depend on volume. If you do 10-15 or more of these events annually, a loss can be averaged out fairly quickly. Fewer than 10, one loss could be very difficult to recoup. From a tax standpoint, hole-in-one premiums are generally considered as promotional or advertising expenses.