Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop

Want a hole-in-one? Head to Bend, Oregon

January 24, 2012

The 2011 golf season will be hard to beat for two sets of golfers who experienced golf nirvana at Crooked River Ranch Golf Course near Bend, Ore. The course itself will have a hard time topping what took place in 2011 as well.

On two occasions, July 28 and Oct. 28, two golfers each aced a hole while playing in the same group. While the feat of two golfers acing in the same group has been done dozens of times in our record keeping, having it happen twice in a year at the same course is indeed a rarity and it could be a first. It's a feat not easily checked in all our record books. Trumping this feat, of course, would be having more than two golfers making a hole-in-one on the same day on the same course, and probably the most famous of that is when four players aced the sixth hole at Oak Hill in the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open.

But let's not spoil the fun for our Crooked River achievers. On July 28, Jan Markham used an 8-iron to ace the 11th hole, 106 yards from the red tees, her fourth hole-in-one. Her friend and playing partner, Ellie Rice, was happy for her pal but since it was the third time she'd witnessed an ace in a year's time without ever getting one of her own, she wasn't totally overjoyed. And she wasn't likely to see one then, either, since we list odds of 17 million to 1 for two average players acing the same hole in the same group. After another group member, Anita Britton, played her tee shot to the back of the green, however, Rice struck her pitching wedge, watched the ball land short, right of the hole, and then roll in for an ace on top of Markham's ball.

While the two women were elated for weeks to come, the course was to have Round 2 of the improbable occur three months later. On Oct. 28, Jack Martin and Len Johnson had holes-in-one in the same group, on the same day, on the seventh hole, a par 3 that was playing 149 yards. The two men were playing an impromptu, late-day, nine-hole round with their wives, Gail Martin and Anita Johnson. As the group approached the seventh, Johnson's premonition skills kicked in and he told Martin that the hole was the only par 3 on the course he hadn't aced. Martin, age 66, was the first to play, however, and hitting into a strong wind, he used a driver. It appeared to the group that the ball rolled in for his first ace, but any celebrating was put on hold. When Johnson, 75, also hit his 5-wood straight at the hole, there was excitement that the two had both aced. Johnson, the more experienced acer with five already, was so confident that he didn't even bother bringing his putter to the green, where they confirmed the ace trick.

Whether the events of three months time are a first or not, the course will be able to brag about this for years. Crooked River Ranch already calls itself "The Gem of Central Oregon," but the double dip into golf craziness has CRR golf professional Pat Huffer jokingly thinking of a campaign built around coming to the course if you're wanting to experience an ace. They can almost guarantee it.

--Cliff Schrock