Tales from the Links: My Almost Hole-in-OneThe 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.