Monday, February 21st, 2011

Tales from the Links: My Almost Hole-in-One

The other day, I mentioned that I started golfing during my sophomore year in high school. That was back in the late summer of 1988 and I recall we were in the middle of a drought. The course was hard as a rock. With no prior instruction I simply walked out to the 10th tee box, teed up a ball and whacked it. Playing the Dwight Country Club's back nine served as my introduction to golf. Other than knowing the basic concept of how the game worked, I was clueless. During my first year, I would shoot anywhere in the 50s or 60s for nine holes. I never came close to par on any holes, much less a birdie.

One day during my second year of golf, I was lucky. My team generally played the back nine at the Dwight Country Club. It was easier and straighter than the front nine. We played the 10th hole and moved along to the 11th. Dwight's 11th hole is a 104-yard par 3. The trees on the left are set back enough from the green, they rarely come into play. Unfortunately, the trees on the right are dense and arch over the fairway.

As always, I grabbed an iron - something like an eight or nine - and swung. For right or wrong, I usually attempt to drop the ball right on the green. Sadly, I usually leave the ball far too short of the green, or send it well beyond near the 12th tee box. That day I made solid contact. I hit the ball too hard and on a line well to the right. Yes, straight into the trees on the right. Generally, speaking those trees do one of two things. More times than not, they drop balls straight down. That sets up a difficult second shot. The other possible outcome is that the trees kick the ball back toward the 10th fairway. That is challenging as well, but at least you're not surrounded by trees.

Mother Nature must have been on my side that day.

The ball bounced out of the trees and was headed straight for the cup. It was traveling so fast, I assumed it would hit the green and roll off of the left side of the green.


The ball stopped about two inches from the hole. I hit an ugly tee shot, and yet, there I was putting for a birdie. At the time, I was used to terms like double bogey and triple bogey. Now don't get me wrong. Over the years I've missed my share of two inch putts. With trembling hands, I sunk my first birdie. I had no right getting so close to a hole-in-one.

Tags:  Dwight, golf, Illinois
More times than not, hitting a tree with a golf ball ends in a pretty difficult lie for the next shot. However, every now and then a tree can help a shot. Playing in a foursome one time, one of the guys pushed his shot to the right, way right, into the trees. We could here it bouncing around and then all of a sudden it dropped into the middle of the fairway!! The guy that hit it cracked us all up when he then said with sincerity, "Trees are our friends!" It became a little saying that stuck with the foursome over the years and was said by a golfer whenever a lie was improved by hitting a tree - it always brought on a smile from the other golfers!
stheinz   Monday, February 21, 2011
True story, Bill. Once when mowing fairways I saw a guy hit a golf ball into a tree bordering the fairway. The ball didn't come out - it stuck up in a fork of a branch! The guy looked the situation over, walked to the back of his cart and took out a pitching wedge, walked over underneath the tree and proceeded to throw the club at the golf ball trying to dislodge it! You guessed it - after four or five tries the club stuck in the tree!! I about fell off my mower I was laughing so hard. After he left I drove over to the guy mowing the rough (his mowing unit was a tractor that had a front-end-loader on it) and told him about what I had just seen!! He drove me over to the tree in his bucket and hoisted me up into the tree where I was able to get both the golf ball and the pitching wedge!!
stheinz   Monday, February 21, 2011
Great stories from both of you. I've never played golf except on a computer but I can see how it could get addictive.
LGrant   Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Yes, it's quite addictive. Quite a roller coaster ride, too. When it's good, it's exciting. When bad, it's quite frustrating.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Steve, great stories. It's always nice to hear those stories.
Bill Pearch   Tuesday, February 22, 2011
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