My first ace: A love story
After 15 years and almost 500 courses played, it finally happened.
The eagle has landed. I hit my first hole in one.
It was everything I imagined and more … the rush of excitement on the tee, the teasing from those who have seen me play and the outpouring of congrats from golfing friends through Facebook, phone calls and texts. It was an awesome day.
And thankfully, everything about it was legit. It was a great shot on a good hole at an excellent and tough course.
It came on No. 12 at The Gailes at Lakewood Shores Resort in Oscoda, Mich. The Gailes, at one time ranked among the top 100 public courses in the country, is one of the tougher golf courses in Michigan. It’s about as close to real links as you’ll find in America. There are dunes, double greens, sod-wall bunkers, tall fescue and constant wind off of Lake Huron.
The hole, pictured above, is nicknamed the “Postage Stamp” after the famous par 3 at Royal Troon in Scotland. From the blue tee, I lasered the yardage to 141 yards with my Bushnell 1500. My cart partner, Wes Bolyard, a golf writer from Arizona, and I mutually agreed a 135-yard shot would be perfect to the tiny plateau green among the dunes.
I struck a pure pitching wedge that drew toward the flag. My ball took one high hop, another smaller one and disappeared instantly. I started hollering and tossed my club and high-fived Wes. Another friend, Phyllis Barone, publisher of the Michigan Golfers Guide, was standing below the tee and she was in shock.
True to my game, I double bogeyed the next hole. I met the cart girl along the way and proudly announced that I’d “lost my virginity.”
My scorecard looks like a typical 11-handicap round … 6-1-6 to start the back nine. For the record my score wasn’t great, either. I shot 91 for the round. It broke my streak of nine straight rounds in the 80s. None of that mattered.
After the round, my playing partners’ autographed my NIKE ball, put the date on it and I put it away for safe keeping. That night my bar tab for our group of 15 ran to about $60. That’s a small price to pay.
My two biggest fears over the years were always this: I would never get one, or worse yet, I’d get one on a fluke, a worm burner or a sculled tee shot. I hit a “mulligan ace” at Ballyliffin’s Glashedy course once … I banged a pitching wedge into the dunes (I blame the wind) and reloaded with an 8 iron under the wind from 150 yards for an unlikely par.
I celebrated pretty hard after that miracle shot, but it didn’t rate compared to yesterday’s exhilarating joy. It’s something I hope every golfer experiences.
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