A young woman playing in the inaugural U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Championship made a hole-in-one, and her reaction was so typical. She first lamented the shot off the clubhead, but then it bounced and began to roll left toward the hole. Someone shouted, "Go in!" And it did. Nonplussed, she calmly picked up her tee, then realized what had happened, did a little dance and hugged her partner in joy. All captured by television cameras (see golfdigest.com/go/marieace)
The happiest shot in golf is without doubt the hole-in-one. A 12,000-to-one shot for the average golfer. What made this one even more special was that the acer is one of our own: Marie Bos, the senior marketing research manager for Golf Digest. Because it was the first hole-in-one recorded in this national championship, she was asked to donate the ball to the USGA Museum.
I couldn't help but remember Ben Hogan's remark to the USGA's executive director when he finished the 72nd hole at Olympic in 1955 and, thinking it was his fifth U.S. Open victory, tossed over his ball: "Here, Joe, this is for Golf House." Only Joe Dey gave it back when Hogan lost a playoff to Jack Fleck. Golf House is keeping Marie's ball because holes-in-one are forever.
Arguably golf's best ball-striker, Hogan had only four holes-in-one in his career. Lee Trevino and Annika Sorenstam had three, and Seve Ballesteros only two. Ahem, I've had four: the first at Glyfada Golf Club in Greece, and the last on a simulator in a friend's man cave. OK, I've had three. But whenever you're lucky enough to make one, it's cause to buy your friends a round of drinks.
Golf Digest Senior Writer Jaime Diaz had an ace last year on the same hole at Pacific Dunes as Marie did. Digital Director Molly Baldwin made one in Dallas with her dad. And our summer intern Sara Garmezy got one last fall qualifying for the Women's Four-Ball. In April, I witnessed a majestic one by my pal Warren Fields at Spyglass Hill's sensational third hole.
Our staff's best player if you don't count playing editors is Deputy Editor Max Adler, who edited this month's Happiness package, and he's the owner of two career aces. Our late equipment editor Pete Farricker once made a hole-in-one while playing with Harry Taylor, the designer of the Mizuno club he was using. Our Web deputy editor, Ryan Herrington, made his ace four years ago, and the ball is still rattling around in his car's glove compartment. Our most famous ace this year was Playing Editor Jack Nicklaus' at No. 4 in the Par-3 Contest at the Masters.
Senior Editor Ron Whitten has made two, but, as he emailed me: "The second was pretty neat. On the third hole at Calusa Pines, my opponent's ball hit, took two bounces and went in the hole. After high-fives and chest bumps, I hit the same shot: two bounces, and in the hole on top of his."
Our guru of all records and rarities is Cliff Schrock, the editor of Golf Digest's Resource Center, who has made not a single ace but has a double eagle on a par 5. Golf Digest has recorded one million holes-in-once since 1952. (Register your ace at GDAcers.com)
Some of our favorites in the past year:
• Dom DeBonis, 81, made aces on three consecutive days last October in Myrtle Beach.
• Gus Andreone, 103, the oldest member of the PGA of America, made one last December to become the oldest ever. (The oldest woman was Elsie McLean, at 102 in 2007.)
• And in May, Tony and Janet Blundy made 1s on the same hole on the same day. Cliff adds: "This was the 14th time we've had husbands and wives make back-to-back aces."
Holes-in-one are wonderful, and a low 18-hole score is pretty good, too, but the happiest moments in golf have nothing to do with ball-striking. See where Happiness begins on page 60. I've quoted him before, but my favorite sentiment comes from the Irishman Dermot Desmond: "There are three joys of golf: how you play, where you play, and whom you play with. And the first two are overrated." True happiness is golf among family and friends.
MY TOP 5
Hole-In-One Feats In Golf Digest's Record Book:
From the knees: two recorded instances
Using a putter: six
Left- and right-handed: 18
While wearing handcuffs: Only one
(no details given)