It was one of the first 60+ degree days in April. The golf course near me had just opened up, and my youngest son, Easton (age 8), and I were thinking about things to do. I mentioned a few options. One was to grab some subs and have a picnic at the park. The other was to go golfing. He asked if we could do both. So we did. (He has dimples, and he knows how to use them effectively during negotiations like this one,) We had a nice picnic and then headed over to the golf course (Minnewaska Golf Club). When we got there, it was starting to get a little late in the day, and Easton had some homework waiting for him at home. I asked him if he wanted to just go to the driving range and putting green or if he wanted to golf some real holes. He wanted to golf some holes. So we did. There was a junior high tournament playing the front 9 holes, so we started on the back 9.
Easton and I were all smiles after the hole in one. Selfie by Jim Palmer
It was our first time out, so we were both a little rusty. And since I only play seven or eight times a year, I’m pretty much always a little rusty.
We played holes 10, 11 and 12 with little excitement. We both had a few nice shots and a few more lousy ones.
I stepped up to hole 13, a par three with a downhill slope with big trees surrounding the green. It was 112 yards to the flag stick, which was set in the middle of the green that day.
I grabbed a pitching wedge and strolled up to the tee box. I realized when I got there that I didn’t have a tee. Since it was just a leisurely round of golf, I decided to just hit without one.
Typically a pitching wedge shot goes high into the air, but I didn’t hit it quite right so it probably went about half as high as it usually does. It was straight though. The ball landed on the edge of the green and started rolling toward the pin. As the ball got closer to the hole, it rolled into the long shadows of the trees surrounding the green. Then it disappeared.
I looked over at Easton to see if he could tell if it went into the hole. Easton was watching the golfers on the hole next to us. His good friend, Sam, was golfing with his parents, (Terry and Michele Jones) who are also friends of the Palmers.
“Hey Terry!” I yelled. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think might have just hit a hole in one.”
“Really?!” he said.
“Yeah, I don’t see it anymore.”
Easton and I hopped on the golf cart and drove closer to the green. Easton jumped off before the golf cart stopped and ran down to the hole. He kneeled down and looked down into the hole. He turned to me with a toothy smile and gave me a big thumbs up.
It was a hole in one. An “ace!” The ultimate shot in golf (with the ultimate amount of luck, too).
After some high fives, Easton took a few photos of me with the ball. We decided to play one more hole before going back to the club house. It was starting to get late and that homework wasn’t going to do itself.
As most people know, it is a long-standing tradition in golf that if a person hits a hole in one they are expected to celebrate their achievement with everyone in the club house by buying everyone a drink.
When we got to the club house, there were only two people inside. One had a full drink in his hand and didn’t want another one, and the other declined my offer as he was about to leave.
I have heard that some golfers take out “hole in one insurance” to ease the cost of paying the bar tab in the event they get an ace and the club house is packed. I did not have that insurance. Fortunately, I didn’t need it.
My son Easton grabbed my phone and snapped this photo of the ball in the cup. Photo by Easton Palmer
But that didn’t mean we couldn’t celebrate a little. Easton and I sat down and each ordered a drink for ourselves. I had a tall cold one, and Easton had a Sprite with some cranberry juice.
It was fun to get my ace, and it was fun to share it with Easton (even though he wasn’t really watching when I hit it).
Now that I am in the “Hole in One Club,” I became aware of some interesting facts about hitting one.
According to a few golf sites on the Internet, the chances of an average golfer making a hole in one is about 12,500 to 1, and the odds of a professional golfer getting one is about 2,500 to 1.
I also learned that I am just 19 aces behind Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Both have 20 (so far).
I used a pitching wedge to hit my big shot. According to the same people (with too much time on their hands), only about 7 percent of hole-in-one shots are hit with a pitching wedge. The most common clubs for aces are the seven, eight and nine irons.
Because of a busy spring schedule, I haven’t been back to finish my round. So that brings me to another stat that I can tell people until I get back to a tee box … Since I just played those five holes, I can honestly say (right now anyway) that I have hit a hole-in-one on 20 percent of the holes I played in 2019.
Maybe I should just retire from golf right now (walk away on a high note) or maybe I should start going for my second ace. I think I’ll wait to retire from golf. Maybe lightning can strike twice!