I’VE WAITED A LONG time to make a second hole-in-one. How long? Since high school. My first and only ace was a 9-iron on a 140-yard par 3. It came on the day after golf season ended. Fortunately, I was not playing alone.
With a tiny bit of help from the golf gods, yesterday could have been my second. Really. (I know many of you have a story like this, and it will sound like the fish that got away. My apologies in advance.)
Perhaps not so surprising—I am “The Armchair Golfer,” after all—yesterday was my first round this year. I’m a decent player who, in this season of life, doesn’t play much golf. But yesterday was the Young Life tournament at Blacksburg Country Club. It’s an annual tradition, two-man teams that play captain’s choice (scramble) format. I always partner with my colleague and friend Walter, another former high school and college golfer who barely plays.
There were the typical team and hole prizes, including longest drive on various holes, longest putt and closest to the pin on all four par-3s. I’m not going to win the long drive. But I do have a history of closest-to-the-pin wins. One year I took home a new driver. That brings us to yesterday’s near-perfect shot.
On the par-3 15th, which was playing about 175, I struck a crisp 5-iron that flew straight at the flag. It looked great in the air, but was it the right distance? My playing partners talked to my ball while I stared silently, hopefully. The ball landed and stopped close to the hole.
I didn’t know how good it was until I got to the green. The ball nearly went in on the fly. The ball mark was an inch to the left of the cup. I sank the four-and-a-half-foot birdie putt. One of my playing partners marked me down on the closest-to-the-pin sheet and all agreed I had sewed up the victory on that hole. A small green surrounded by trouble, it isn’t an easy par 3. How was anyone going to hit it closer than me?
Hours later tournament organizers handed out the prizes at the banquet. I admit I was wondering what I would win. But they never called my name. Because a golfer who came along after me aced the 15th hole. It was the second hole-in-one in the 23-year history of the tournament. The guy wasn’t even at the banquet to pick up his prize. He and his pals were at large, celebrating the shot of the tournament.
As a team, Walter and I finished toward the bottom of the first flight. We won four gourmet burgers at Red Robin. Oh well.
Did I tell you about the bunker shot I nearly holed on the 3rd hole? It’s true. It lipped out. Nevermind. I think I’ve already told you enough.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Images: Courtesy of Blacksburg Country Club)