I had just double bogeyed the first hole when I flubbed an easy greenside chip and 3 putted from 25 feet so mindset was already slightly off when I stepped up to the 2nd tee. It was 137 yard Par 3 with a wide stream to the right side of the green and large trees growing up and leaning toward the hole on the left side. To make matters worse, the pin was on the left side so you would need to skirt the trees to get it close or drop it wide right to the middle of the green and hope that your ball wouldn’t backspin back down the slope and into the stream. Having played this hole multiple times with limited to no success in the past, I planned to do what I usually did on this hole. I would no doubt pull the ball left of the green and hope for the branches to give me a fortuitous bounce. I grabbed my 8 iron and a short tee and stepped to the middle of the Men’s tee box. (This was in the day before we had a veritable rainbow of markers on every hole) I planted my tee into a spike mark first that felt too loose and then moved it an inch or two left into a firmer position. I pressed the tee into the ground until just the tip of my finger fit between the ground & my ball. (A rock hard free AIU North America Wilson Ultra in case you need to know) I stepped back, glanced at the hole, took a quick and slightly awkward practice swing while thinking to myself, “Don’t do that again”, another quick glance, waggle, tap the ground and swing.
It felt like I I hit it a little inside out or closer to the shaft than usual but it didn’t sound too bad. As I looked up to track the ball I noticed it was actually tracking right toward the flag stick. It wasn’t leaking right or pulling left and the arc was such that I didn’t think it was going to be short. As the ball reached its apex, I started to flick my eyes between the ball and the trap at the back of the green as I was sure that was where my ball was headed. But that isn’t where the ball landed. With and audible thud, the ball hit the green and spun 90 degrees to its right 2 inches and into the hole.
At first there was stunned silence. Then my father started jumping up & down like he had hit the shot. I tried to quiet him in my disbelief because people were putting back up on the 1st hole. When we got up to the green, the ballmark was huge & deep and my ball was safely nestled next to the flag stick at the bottom of the cup. I had my first and to this day, only Hole in One.
As an aside, I have played that hole countless times since that day 20 years ago and I think I have hit the green maybe 3 times and I haven’t been any closer than 10 feet and that is probably being generous.
And as for the ball I used on that fateful day ? I drove it into the woods 2 holes later never to be seen again.