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Those were the days ...What are the odds? PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, June 29, 2013 12:32 AM

I’ve only had the chance to play golf one time this year, but am hoping to play more often. I still enjoy the game although I’m not very good at it anymore. Recently I came across a photo of me holding the golf ball that I made my first hole-in-one with. A search on Google tells me that Golf Digest says the statistical probability of an amateur making a hole in one are 1 in 12,750. The odds of me making my first hole-in-one and the way it happened have to be astronomical.


In the summer of 1979, my wife’s twin brother, Jack, and I were partners in our company’s golf league. I was the “A” player and Jack was the “B” player. Although Jack was a better ball striker than me, I was a good scrambler and had a good short game. As a result, although we played together often, Jack had never scored a round lower than mine. For example, we were playing a round at a course in Canton, Ohio, and Jack scored an impressive 38 on the first nine holes. However, I had the best nine holes of my life and scored a 33! That’s the way it always went. If Jack was playing great, I was playing better. If I was playing poorly, Jack was even worse.


But “bragging rights” changed to Jack’s favor when he made a hole-in-one that was witnessed by his brother, Brett, who he was playing with. Jack couldn’t wait to tell me all about it.

“You can’t imagine how good it felt to see that ball go in the hole. You don’t know how good it feels to make a hole in one!”

My response was, “No, Jack, you’re right. I can’t imagine how good it feels to make a hole-in-one because I’ve never made one.”

Jack was “rubbing it in” every chance he got! He would describe how he was standing at the fifth hole at South Hills Golf Course; how he took out his pitching wedge on the 100-yard hole; how he took a smooth swing; how the ball hit to the left of the green (just the way he played it) kicked onto the sloping left to right green and rolled right into the hole. Although he was getting annoying bragging about it, I liked Jack and was happy for him. Jack had the “upper hand.” No doubt about it. But that would all change one week later.

Brett challenged me to a round of golf at the same golf course. I brought my two sons, Mike and John, and my nephew, Jerry, to watch us play. We played the first four holes and since no one was behind us on the course, I let the boys practice putting while Brett and I walked to the fifth tee. Since Brett had witnessed Jack’s hole-in-one a week earlier on the hole we were about to play, I asked him to describe Jack’s reaction. Brett called it a lucky shot and talked about how excited Jack was and how he yelled with joy when that ball went into the hole.

The boys walked over to join us and sat down on the bench next to the tee. I pulled out my pitching wedge and teed up my #5 Top Flite on the fifth hole. Pro golfers say you should visualize the shot that you want to hit before you attempt the shot, so I tried it. I pictured me taking a smooth swing and making good contact. I visualized the ball landing on the green to the left of the hole, taking one hop, and then rolling into the hole. I know it’s hard to believe, but I took my stance, made a nice swing and watched as the ball took flight and ended up rolling into the hole for a hole-in-one!

The boys were impressed. They were high-fiving me while Brett was in shock that he had witnessed both Jack and I making a hole-in-one on the same hole in just one week. About 10 minutes later, we hit our drives on the sixth hole. Brett was walking about 50 yards ahead of me while the boys and I were still in the “afterglow” of my hole-in-one. Talk about irony – I watched as Jack came walking from the opposite direction toward Brett. He had come to see who was winning and I watched as Brett told him about me making a hole-in-one. I could tell that Jack couldn’t believe it.

I approached Jack with a huge smile on my face and said, “Now I know, Jack, How good it feels to make a hole in one! You want to tell everyone you see about it. It’s an awesome feeling isn’t?” I don’t remember what Jack said, but I can picture him photo smiling and shaking his head while he was muttering something about me being the luckiest guy he ever met.

While watching the U.S. Open recently with my sons, Mike and John, we talked about that hole-in-one that happened 34 years ago. My memory of the hole-in-one was the same as what I described earlier when I visualized the shot. Their memory and description is a little different. They say that I hit the ball and it landed on the hill to the left of green. Then it took a bounce to the right onto the green. It kept rolling until it went into the left side of the cup. They hinted that it was more luck than skill but then gracefully added that it was probably just the way I had meant to hit the shot.

To be using a golf ball with number five on it, to be on the fifth hole, to make your first hole-in-one on the same hole that your friend, golfing buddy and wife’s twin brother had made his first hole-in-one on, to have it witnessed by the same guy who had seen both hole-in-ones, and to have your two sons actually see you make a hole-in-one the first time they have ever watched you play golf… WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Last Updated on Saturday, June 29, 2013 12:36 AM

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