Friday, Apr 27, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Funny thing about aces: some count, some don't

I have had two holes-in-one during my rather wretched golfing career. Problem is, neither of them counted. My father made the call on the first one, and, well, we'll get to the other one later.

Like any kid, a round of golf with dad was always a treat. He could play the game a little and had a handicap down around 12 or so, I'd guess, a number his son has never managed to approach, let alone equal.

Anyway, I was probably 9 or 10 years old, very much a novice, when we played nine holes one evening at South Toledo Golf Club.

This would have been in the early 1960s, when the nines were reversed and the par 3 that is now the 12th hole was No. 3. The course, then called Heather Downs South, wasn't as well groomed as it is today - its nickname was Heather Rock - and I don't recall whether the pond that fronts the right edge of the green was there at that time. I remember a tee, a lot of rugged hardpan and a rather nondescript green.

I took a mighty swing, topped the ball about 20 yards, then watched it roll, hop, skip, bounce, roll some more, hop some more, run up onto the green, crash into the flagstick and fall into the hole.

Well, I was pretty excited. I might have been only 10, but I knew two things. A hole-in-one meant you had to buy a round of drinks and it meant you got your name in The Blade's sports section. I figured I had enough in my piggy bank to buy the old man a beer and I thought having my name in the paper would be pretty neat. Don't worry, I've gotten over the latter.

So I'm jumping around and shouting and I look at my father, who was always the definition of the word reserved, and saw only the barest hint of a smile.

“I'll put a 1 on the scorecard, but we're not going to report it,” he said. “Let's not insult this great game by calling that a hole-in-one.”

Party-pooper, God rest his soul.

Well, if you think that was a bummer, check this out.

I was playing a few years ago at a course near Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, and pulled up to a par 3 hole with the honors, that being somewhat of a miracle in itself.

The course is cut through marshland, and the tees and green on this hole are reclaimed from the swamp. I checked the yardage, jumped out of the cart, teed it up and hit a sweet, smooth 6-iron shot over the wetlands that landed softly, took one bounce, settled, and rolled into the hole.

Behind me, all I heard was laughter. A lot of it. A couple of guys were on the ground they were laughing so hard. My third playing partner was still upright and rather stoic, using his club to point to the left. Toward the green to which I was supposed to be hitting. Not the green where my ball rested in the bottom of the cup, a green that happened to be part of a nearby par-4 hole.

So I started over, hit a couple balls in the marsh, finally got on and two-putted for a 9.

The worst part? My buddies still made me buy a round of drinks.

Now it's your turn to buy. We asked for your favorite hole-in-one stories and you produced some dandies.

Truthfully, I'm a little jealous. Some of yours actually counted.

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