History
Butler and Barnes
History

Europe

Sept 21, 1973 – Ryder Cup's first ace

It is safe to say that a hole-in-one requires a degree of luck, with the majority of perfectly-struck tee shots not finding the bottom of the cup.

Luck was certainly on Peter Butler's side in 1973 - and not just when he stood on the 16th tee.

Butler, who recorded 26 professional victories including a Senior Tour triumph in 1993, was a regular in the upper echelons of the British and later European Order of Merit throughout the 1960s and 70s.

Making his fourth and final Ryder Cup appearance, the Englishman arrived at Muirfield on the back of a sixth-place finish at the Open Championship - his best major performance.

Despite that, Butler was left out of both sessions on the opening day and was set to suffer a similar fate in Friday's foursomes.

However, Scot Bernard Gallacher was taken ill just 90 minutes before he was due to tee off on day two and so Great Britain & Ireland captain Bernard Hunt elected for Butler to partner Brian Barnes against American pair Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. 

Butler subsequently produced the biennial contest's first ever hole-in-one at the 16th courtesy of a three-iron from 188 yards.

 

But despite writing his name in the record books, Butler could not prevent a final-hole defeat to Nicklaus and Weiskopf.

Butler and Barnes were beaten again, this time by J C Snead and Arnold Palmer, two up in the afternoon fourballs, and Butler lost to Homero Blancas in the Sunday singles as the United States ran out 19-13 winners.

However, it was Butler whose name was permanently etched into Ryder Cup folklore, with only five players since having matched his feat.

It would be 20 years before Nick Faldo would record the second Ryder Cup hole-in-one at the Belfry, with Costantino Rocca and Howard Clark both achieving an ace at Oak Hill in 1995 and Paul Casey and Scott Verplank doing likewise at the K Club 11 years later.