by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
My friend, Pat, sent me a text of a photo from his ace. It came up as a memory on Facebook from six years ago. I asked him if I could share the photo and story and he said “Absolutely! Many of my friends are still ticked off I have 2 and they have zip.” Count me in that group! As you can see from the photo, I was there for the second. It happened on the 17th hole at Harvest Hill Golf Course, and I remember it vividly.
Pat was struggling overall on the day, but we were having a great time anyway. It’s hard not too with Pat’s upbeat personality. As the round was winding down, we were playing the par 3 15th hole. I hit a decent shot that led to the discussion of hole in ones. Pat began to tell me the story about his ace that he had when he first started golfing. If I recall that correctly, he hit a worm burning 3 wood that ended of in the hole when he was a teenager. Not a thing of beauty. We completed the 16th hole (one of the hardest par 4’s in Buffalo), and headed to the 17th tee box.
The 17th hole at Harvest Hill is an awkward hole in my opinion. The angle doesn’t fit the shape of the green from the blue tees. It plays over a pond from around 190 yards, and the green is sideways from that angle, and slopes away towards the woods. It’s also a massive green, one you really have to know to figure out where the pin location is. None of that mattered to Pat.
I think he had honors on the hole, if not, maybe he went second. We figured the distance to the flag right around 200 yards, as the hole location was in the back left of the green (back right from the front tees). Pat grabbed a hybrid and gave it a rip. It was pure, high, and right at the flag. As the ball descended I heard a faint rattle off the in the distant, and saw the flagstick shake a little. I proclaimed “I think you jarred it!”. We had to wait for everyone to play before we could race up to see if indeed he aced it. It was a short drive, but I bet it felt like a drive to Albany for Pat.
When we parked the cart to the right or back of the green (I told you it’s an awkward hole), Pat didn’t run up, and waited for us to confirm. We called him up to notice the ball mark in the back of the cup and ball sitting below the surface, resting between the base of the flagstick and the back of the cup. An Ace! A real ace this time, not some clumpy 3 wood from 160 yards. High fives and hugs all around. Later afternoon plans were cancelled or put on hold for the celebratory round after the round. It was a bonding moment, and I’m glad he shared the memory again.
That was the first hole in one I witnessed, and I had the pleasure of seeing another. It was during a round of golf in Ireland in October of 2016. We were playing Doonbeg, a Trump golf property that was recently redone. The par 3 seventh hole was playing 190 yards from the back tee, down hill, with a slant to right. My buddy Jeremy teed off first and hit a low trajectory (his intended flight) 6 iron to the back center flag. The line was a little left of the green and it landed on the fringe. The ball then took a fortuitous bounce forward and to the right, tracking to the hole. I remember yelling “this is going in!”, and it did. We had a perfect view, and it was glorious to watch.
The folks at Doonbeg were awesome on the occasion, and Jeremy dropped plenty of Euro in the club’s pub afterwards. The GM had all of us in the group sign a matted frame, to send Jeremy as a moment of the trip and accomplishment because he was the first person to record an ace on the redesigned hole. How great is that! I’ll never forget it, and it’s something that will help me keep in touch with the group.
I feel like I’m always a bridesmaid because I don’t have one yet. I have done everything you can possible do on a par 3, but get a hole in one. I’ve popped out twice, been on the edge 3 times, flagged it, been on the opposite side of cup, and have had the ball put the breaks on right before rolling in. Frustrating, but I remember them all. And that’s the great thing about aces and the near misses. You remember them, and so do your playing partners. It’s part of the beauty of the game, the bonding moments.
I love the possibility of an ace each time I tee it up on a par 3. I know it’s unlikely, but I dream of it before each swing. I’m prepared too. I carry a small bottle of scotch in my golf bag to immediately celebrate with when I finally get one. If it doesn’t happen in the next few years, I’ll use that bottle to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pat’s ace.
And, I’ll get a new bottle. Cheers!