Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The hole-in-one conundrum

I was playing golf the other day around dusk, as I do whenever the old ball-and-chain lets me out of the house on a weekday evening. That's not true - I don't always play golf (ZING! Just kidding, hon). Anyways, it's a perfect night. Nice and warm. No one behind me on the course. A few cold beers in the bag. And after a few skanky shots, I even started hitting the ball decent. So I get to Hole 7, a longish par-3 over water. Tough hole. As is very often the case when I get to this hole, the sun is now very low in the sky and Hole-7 faces due West.

After surveying the situation - blocking out the sun with my hand to see the hole location, picking out a spot between my ball and my target for alignment, and taking the final swig from beer number two, I make a passable swing with my 4-iron, sending the ball in the general direction of the green, 190-yards or so away. Or at least, that what it feels like. Once the ball leaves the club face, I do my best to battle the glare of the sun to try and track it. No dice. The orange fireball in the sky wins yet again and I look down and left to see if my ball will end up like so many before it - at the bottom of the lake. A few seconds pass and the lake remains ripple-free. My ball is on dry land, at least.

As I make the walk toward the green along the edge of the lake, scooping out balls others were too lazy to retrieve (we're in a recession, people!), I scan the area ahead for my ball. Nothing. I head for the bunker right of the green where I'd guess roughly 30% of the balls I've hit to this hole have ended up. Nothing. Quick searches of the long bunker that borders the left side of the green and the devilish little pot bunker in the back both fail to reveal my Titleist 2. Huh? I scan the rough around the green more closely, even walking up the slope to the cart path for a bit of a bird's eye view. Still no ball.

I walk back down to the green and the flag stick catches my eye. "No way," I think to myself. First off, I didn't strike the ball all that solidly - kind of toed it, and second, "there's no effing way that ball went in the hole." Still, I've looked all over and haven't found it. Maybe it was the recipient of a few fortuitous bounces and maybe, just maybe, it found it's way to the bottom of the cup.

This wasn't the first time this has happened to me, and I'm fairly certain it's happened to almost everyone who has played the game for any number of years. To that point, I'd never sauntered up to the hole and looked in, only to have my ball sitting there looking back at me. Well, it didn't happen this day either. Turns out my ball was fifteen yards or so back in a thick spot of rough. A hack out, a decent bunker shot and two putts later, and my would-be one was now a double-bogey five. Ouch.

After taking out my frustration over the double out on the next tee shot (not really, but I did stripe one down the middle), I got to thinking, what if that ball did find its way into the hole, for my first ever hole-in-one? My first thought was that it would kinda suck, really. Here I am, playing by myself with only some birds and rabbits to witness this great achievement. No one to high-five, no one to ooh and aah over the feat, no one to call me a lucky bastard and no one to buy beers for afterward. No one to relive the moment with a year or two, or ten down the road.

Also, I'd always imagined when I finally got my first ace, it would be a perfectly struck shot, just flushed. I would hold my finish and track the flight of the ball as it homed in on the stick like it was being sucked into a black hole. Then cue the aforementioned high-fiving, oohing and aahing, etc. This would have been the exact opposite of that. The shot was toed, a low duck hook that started right before eventually divebombing left. Just an ugly golf shot. Add that to the fact that the sun pretty much would have rendered me blind had I tried to track its flight, and it would have pretty much sucked all the way around.

I still would have busted out my cell phone then and there and called pretty much everyone in my contacts list. But deep down, I’d have been a little pissed if my first hole-in-one happened that way. Now, the second, or third, or fourth…

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