What’s More Difficult? 147, Nine-Darter, or Hole-In-One

  • Amid the Snooker World Championship 2023, the ultimate question has surfaced yet again
  • Since records began, 188 players have hit 147s including Ronnie O’Sullivan’s staggering 15
  • Past 1994, nine-darters have featured in one of every 2,440 legs of the PDC World Championship
  • Power recently hit two consecutive Aces, something never seen with 147s or nine-darters
Snooker, darts, and golf
The age old debate has resurfaced – what is more difficult, a 147, a nine-darter, or a hole-in-one?

How difficult is it to achieve perfection? It’s a question that will continue to cause debate within the sporting world for many years to come. Most sports fans hold a staunch opinion supported by a plethora of real-world examples they’ve witnessed or even achieved themselves.

the pivotal question has reared its head yet again

With the Snooker World Championship 2023 ongoing, the pivotal question has reared its head yet again. Is it more difficult to pot a perfect 147 in snooker, hit 501 with just nine darts, or secure a hole-in-one in golf?

Of course, each of these feats has been achieved many times in the past. But in an attempt to answer this question once and for all, VegasSlotsOnline News has scanned the data, searched the history books, and gathered the opinions of those who have actually achieved the tasks.

Snooker – 147

A 147 is the maximum break that a snooker player can make in a single frame. The player must pot all reds and all blacks for 120 points, then follow this with all six colors for 27 points. It’s considered the ultimate feat in snooker, and as such often comes with a cash prize of thousands of pounds in the World Championship and other competitions.

The first player who registered a 147 in a major competition was Joe Davis in a 1955 exhibition match in London. In total, there have been 188 max breaks in snooker since records began. The latest of those actually came last week in the World Championship, when Kyren Wilson secured the 13th 147 in Crucible history:

English snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan is responsible for 15 of the 188 max breaks, the most of any player. Notably, when O’Sullivan received criticism for failing to shake hands after his opponent Judd Trump hit a 147 last year, the legend made clear his thoughts on the feat. “I get why people think it’s an amazing thing to do, but for me I don’t find it a difficult thing to do,” O’Sullivan explained, adding:

When I see somebody else do it, I find it quite normal.”

O’Sullivan’s words have to be taken with a pinch of salt given his unmatched talent and world-renowned self-confidence. There are plenty of factors that suggest fans are right in thinking a max break is actually the most “amazing thing to do.”

Most importantly, in snooker, the table is set up differently in each match based on the break, so it is far more variable than any of our other sports. It also takes the most shots at 36 pots, in comparison to nine darts and one golf shot.

Darts – Nine-darter

In darts, perfection comes in the form of a nine-dart finish. To achieve the feat, a player must complete a score of 501 in the minimum darts necessary, which includes ending on the appropriate double. For instance, one way of achieving a nine-dart finish would be to hit triple 20 on each of the first seven throws, then a triple nine on the eighth, ending with a double 12 on the ninth.

In Premier Darts Corporation (PDC) history since its launch in 1999, players have hit nine-darters more than 400 times. Meanwhile, the first ever recorded nine-darter came from John Lowe in 1984 in the MFI World Matchplay, while the most recent came courtesy of Michael Smith in the final of the World Championship in January:

As can be expected, when confronted with the ultimate question of difficulty, darts players generally argue that the nine-darter trumps the rest. English darts player Wayne Mardle recently took to Twitter to make that exact point. He noted the PDC World Championship has featured 14 nine darters since 1994, one every 2,440 legs. Meanwhile, there has been a 147 in every 2,041 frames of snooker in that same period, making a nine-darter less frequent.

Anyone who says nine-darter needs to go and see a doctor immediately.”

Despite Mardle’s stats on the matter, it’s important to note the opinion of a man who has actually achieved both. Snooker pro Shaun Murphy considers himself the only person in the world to have achieved a 147, nine-darter, and a hole-in-one. Asked which he thinks is harder between the 147 and nine-darter, he said: “Anyone who says nine-darter needs to go and see a doctor immediately.”

Golf – Hole-in-one

In the debate between snooker and darts players, a third option will often sneak into the argument.  A hole-in-one, often referred to as an Ace, is the most difficult achievement in the sport of golf concerning a single hole. It occurs when a player hits the ball from the tee on their first shot straight into the cup.

hit a 517-yard drive straight into the cup

Of course, these mainly occur on Par 3 holes, although hole-in-ones have been recorded on Par 4s and even Par 5s multiple times in the past. The longest hole-in-one ever recorded came courtesy of Mike Crean in Denver, a professor who hit a 517-yard drive straight into the cup. The record is acknowledged by the US Golf Registry.

Tom Morris secured the first professional hole-in-one during the 1868 British Open. In the PGA Tour, Robert Allenby and Hal Sutton share the record for the most Aces, with ten each. A total of 35 PGA players have more than five hole-in-ones. Supposedly, the odds of hitting an Ace are 3000/1 for a professional athlete, lengthening to 12,000/1 for an average player.

Notably, Seamus Power made back-to-back hole-in-ones during a Par 3 contest at the Masters this month, a feat with estimated odds of 11,000,000/1. The Irishman sank his first Ace of the day teeing off from the eighth and made another just minutes later on the ninth:

Importantly, for the sake of our debate, no professional darts player has ever hit back-to-back nine-darters. However, a select few have accomplished the feat twice during one match. In snooker, no player has achieved consecutive max breaks but they have come awfully close. In one recent instance, Shaun Murphy hit a 145 before securing a 147 the following frame in this year’s Welsh Open.

there’s a lot of luck involved isn’t there”

Many believe that the element of luck in hole-in-ones rule them out in the difficulty debate. Commenting on the subject earlier this year, snooker pro turned pundit Alan McManus highlighted the fact that had never hit a max break despite his impressive snooker career but had secured an Ace in golf. “I had a hole-in-one this summer actually but there’s a lot of luck involved isn’t there,” he said.

Also significant, a poll taken by Golf Monthly on Twitter last year among its followers deemed a 147 more difficult than a hole-in-one with 47% of the vote to 44%. The nine-darter came in last with 9%. These are telling results given that poll respondents would mainly consist of those you would expect to harbor a golf bias.

The final say

To conclude, it seems appropriate to take in the view of Shaun Murphy, the only man to achieve all feats (if he is to be believed). The snooker, darts, and golf whizz has made his opinion on the debate abundantly clear:

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