It was a summer’s day in January, 2001. I had just completed eight holes in the Saturday comp with my partner for the day, Barry, and I stood on the tee of the ninth hole at Flagstaff Hill. I had a six iron in my hand; the distance was 135 metres uphill to the cup. I settled over the ball, swung through and watched the ball soar towards the green. That looks pretty good, I thought; it ought to be pretty close. From the tee block, the green has an upside down saucer look to it and the pin was back left. “That might even be through the green”, I remarked to Barry as we started to pull our buggies towards the ninth pin.
As I got close to the green, I scanned the back looking for the ball but couldn’t see anything. It was in the hole! The junior apprentice pro was standing on the verandah of the pro shop just twenty or so metres from the green and he said that he saw the ball bounce twice on the green before jamming into the gap between the front edge of the hole and the pin sticking up. It was pretty exciting and I remembered the advice of my brother-in-law when he got his hole in one – put the golf ball in a safe place so that you don’t lose it! He said that someone who he had played with scored a hole in one and then drowned that same ball on the next hole in a water hazard. My piece of personal golfing memorabilia is safely wedged in the appropriate gap on the six dollar trophy the club gave me for my achievement.
Once upon a time, SA Golfer magazine had a scotch whiskey company as the sponsor of its Hole In One Club. If a registered member of SAGA had a hole in one during an official club competition then details would be forwarded to the magazine and the recipients would get a certificate, a mention in the magazine and a nice bottle of the company’s finest as their prize. By the time I achieved that honour, Precept were the new sponsors and I got a Precept golf cap instead. Still not a bad deal, and certainly better than some other people’s hole in one stories.
A deputy who I worked with had two holes in one, but both were during practice rounds with no witnesses and on temporary holes that were in play during course renovations. Not only was there no prizes or official recognition, he got ribbed about wasting his once (or in his case, twice) in a lifetime achievement on shots that didn’t really count! Another story I heard from a teacher friend of mine who worked at Port Broughton who said he had seen the world’s worst hole in one – a 36 handicapper who scrubbed his 3 wood shot along the ground that bounced, bounced and finally rolled into the cup.
I saw a hole in one another time at Flagstaff Hill on the long par 3 on the back nine. We were on the green, marked our balls and called the group up behind us. One the guys there bladed his tee shot, turned his back on the green and slammed his club into the ground in disgust. Meanwhile the ball hit the front surrounds of the green taking the bulk of the pace off the ball and it then arced its way into the hole. He didn’t turn around until he heard us cheering and yelling out to him. He had missed the whole thing! Another story I heard was from a guy called Peter who I played with regularly who had what he called a Clayton’s hole in one. He was on the seventh at Flagstaff Hill which calls for a tee shot across the corner of a large dam. This tee shot can make a golfer feel a bit anxious and many, many golf balls have been drowned in that watery grave. Peter did the same with his tee shot but then holed out with his third shot off the tee – the hole in one you have when you aren’t having a hole in one.
But my favourite hole in one story with direct involvement involved a group member when we were playing a money game. The game involves pairing up within a foursome and playing best score for fifty cents a hole, but with handicap playing into account. We were playing the 18th which was a shortish par 3 back then (it has since been converted to being the final part of a long par 5) and he holed out for a hole in one. I had put my ball within four feet and drained the birdie putt, and because of my handicap had managed to halve the hole with him! I remember apologising to him for spoiling his moment of glory – I mean a hole in one should win the hole for your team every single time – but he said no problems, it just adds to the story.