Well, it’s that time of year again. The ACE Group Classic is underway and will name its new champion this Sunday, barring a weather complication.
Originally called the Aetna Challenge, the tournament was played at the Club Pelican Bay from its inception in 1988 through 1990 before moving to other venues over the years including from 2002 through 2006 at TwinEagles where it has returned this year.
It will be interesting to see if one or more of the professionals who are participating are able to make a hole-in-one, a dream of many golfers, pros and amateurs, alike. The odds and the Golf Gods are against it and that may be why golf is a four-letter word.
According to the National-Hole-In-One Registry, the odds of acing a hole, the term often used for the feat, range from 2,000 to one to 33,000 to one, depending on your status and your handicap.
Nonetheless, I keep reading and hearing about those who have overcome those odds, not only once but repeatedly.
Actually, the only hole-in-one that I ever witnessed was at the very same TwinEagles a few years ago about six or seven days after the course opened. My friend John had one on the first par three on the front nine. I told him that it probably was the first one ever recorded there. As it turned out, someone else had shot one a day or two before on another hole.
Nonetheless, John was anxious to buy a drink for everyone in the clubhouse as is the tradition (and why people often buy insurance at their club for protection against what could be an expensive bar bill). However, when we returned to the clubhouse, which was actually a trailer as the permanent structure had not yet been opened, other than John and me, the only people there were the pro and his assistant. John was determined to buy and I was determined to do my best to accommodate him. I remember completing two rounds — of drinks, not golf.
I witnessed another hole-in-one at my course in Maryland. One of my son-in-law’s Georgetown classmates aced a par three. Unfortunately it was on her second tee shot, the first having landed in a hazard.
While I never have had a hole-in-one during the more than 20 years I have been playing, I keep reading about those who have done it multiple times defying all odds.
Recently, one professional golfer, Daniel Chopra of Sweden, did it twice during a practice round at the storied Pebble Beach course, of all places. Of course it did not count in his current ranking which remains at 243rd in the world.
According to the aforementioned National Hole-In-One Registry, the odds of making two holes-in-one in the same round are one in 67 million. Chopra has not replicated that feat when it counted. Who said practice makes perfect?
Practice hasn’t helped me in my quest for a hole-in-one. I haven’t had even one although I must have played about 12,000 holes in the approximately 20 years I have been struggling with the game. A couple of times I have come close, even had one leaner against the flag stick two or three years ago (but like in horseshoes where leaners don’t count as ringers, my leaner didn’t count as a hole-in-one).
Yet many casual golfers have recorded multiple holes-in-one. They say that fact can be stranger than fiction so when the odds are so stacked against even a professional, it is stupefying to me to read about some of the against-all-odds holes-in-one that have been recorded.
For example, an article in the Dec. 14, 2011, News Press, told that on Nov. 27, three players, two men and one woman all “aced the east number 4 hole at the Spanish Wells Golf and Country Club in Bonita Springs.” Sounds like a hole I would enjoy trying if I ever get the chance to play there.
I remember three or four years ago it was reported that a young man playing in this area had three holes-in-one during the same round. If I recall correctly no one witnessed all of them as is required by the Hole-In-One Registry.
I am certain that there will be plenty of witnesses at this weekend’s tournament at TwinEagles. My best wishes to those pros participating and may their cups be filled with aces.
After all, it is the ACE Classic.