2006-12-08 / Columns

A hole-in-one in Japan can cost you $10,000

Scott POWELL

Why do Japanese golfers buy hole-in-one insurance?

This was another question that stumped me Wednesday morning in what has become an almost daily work ritual of playing trivial pursuit.

A group of nerds decided to come up with an entire calendar’s worth of trivia questions with answers which require knowledge far beyond what can be got from simply reading books. It’s called “The 365 Amazing Trivia Facts Calendar.”

This calendar has been a bane of my existence at work this year as my co-worker Scott Baughman reads off a difficult trivia question each day that stumps the last one. Hence the question about Japanese golfing tradition.

I don’t play golf except for an occasional trip to play frisbee golf in Rock Hill.

I have a great appreciation for the difficulty of golf, simply from the many times I have been forced to yell “FORE!” with another line drive shot headed towards innocent bystanders operating golf carts.

I have played golf three times in my life. I can count on two or three fingers the number of times one of my drives off the tee has gone airborne.

Even if I did read a golf magazine, I doubt the answer to this question about Japanese golfers would be readily available. My theory is only someone who is a nerd or plays on golf courses in Japan on a regular basis would likely know the answer.

So again, why do Japanese golfers buy hole-in-one insurance?

And the answer is ... “Because Japanese tradition requires them to share their good luck when they get a hole-in-one by giving gifts to all their friends. It’s a tradition that can cost $10,000 or more.”

Now this is what I call dedication.

You know someone enjoys a hobby when they are willing to pay monthly insurance premiums to afford gifts for friends.

Golfers in America who hit a hole-in-one are traditionally supposed to buy drinks for everyone in the clubhouse.

At Cherokee County golf tournaments, a golfer can often win a new car by making a hole-in-one on a specific hole. Automobile dealers provide insurance to pay the cost of giving away the car.

I wonder what a Japanese golfer actually gets for a holein one. If it doesn’t equal the $10,000 they give away in gifts, then what’s the point other than sharing their good luck with those less fortunate?

Is this good luck transferable to other sports or hobbies?

I wonder what will happen if I am ever in a bowling alley when someone has a perfect 300 game.

Does the perfect bowler have to give gifts or do they get to keep the lucky bowling ball?

I do remember covering a sports story after a Gaffney resident who bowled 299. My picture showed the “lucky” bowler holding a replica of the bowling pin that refused to fall down.

I have set my sights much lower.

My highest games in bowling are a 195 and 197 accomplished several years ago when I bowled two to three times a week. If I ever bowl a 200 game, I am officially retiring from bowling.

I will retire from frisbee golf if I ever throw a frisbee hole in one. I’m just not getting any insurance.

There is no tradition for gifts in frisbee golf or bowling. The real gift-giving tradition is already part of a holiday. It’s called Christmas.

One gift I plan to invent some day is an anti-fruitcake disinfectant spray.

This spray will be available for free to anyone who suffers from poor judgement of character or has difficulty identifying the half-baked fruitcake people who appear to be normal. When applied properly, this spray will keep the “fruitcakes” of life away until another Japanese golfer hits a hole-in-one or I can find a new trivia calendar that makes sense.

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