Monday, January 23, 2012

Japanese Hole-In-One Insurance: Over The Top Insurance?

To those folks knowledgeable about Japan’s golfing scene, would you consider Japanese golfers – even casual ones – paying for a monthly premium for a hole-in-one insurance rather over the top?

By: Ringo Bones

Question: “Why do Japanese golfers, even casual ones, buy and pay monthly premiums for a hole-in-one insurance?” The answer is, is that established Japanese golfing tradition requires them to share their good luck when they get that rather rare hole-in-one shot by giving gifts to all their golfing buddies. It is a Japanese tradition that can cost the (un) fortunate hole-in-one shooter as much as 10,000 US dollars or around one million yen depending on the prevailing FOREX rate of the US dollar to the Japanese yen. Is this dedication to the game or what?

When it comes to their dedication of Western-sourced hobbies and pursuits, the Japanese have always been blessed (or is it cursed?) with a healthy disdain for – as Robert Frost puts it: “Playing tennis without a net”. The Japanese understands and appreciate the challenge of creating something within a strict set of guidelines. You know someone really enjoys a hobby when they are willing to pay (a somewhat steep?) monthly insurance premium to afford to give gifts to friends – as in golfing buddies.

By contrast, golfers in America who hit a hole-in-one are traditionally supposed to buy drinks for everyone in the clubhouse, and this seldom cost more than 500 US dollars. At Cherokee County golf tournaments, a golfer can often win a new car by making a hole-in-one on a specific hole. And it is the car dealers who provide the insurance to pay the cost of giving away the brand new car to the lucky golfer who is lucky enough to have made that hole-in-one shot.

Sometimes I do wonder what a Japanese golfer actually gets for the (mis) fortune of getting a hole-in-one shot? A better afterlife? If it doesn’t equal or exceed the 10,000 US dollars that he or she gives away in gifts, then: “What’s really the point other that sharing their good fortune from a golfer’s perspective?” Probably you have to be Japanese too to answer such an existential question satisfactorily? Golfing insurance, anyone?