Out of Left Field

Joining the Hole in One club

Posted 5/27/21

I’m not a good golfer whatsoever.

Nearly all of my golf “talent” evaporated when I grew 8 inches in an 18-month span during high school. With my wingspan now at 6-foot-7, my …

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Out of Left Field

Joining the Hole in One club

Posted

I’m not a good golfer whatsoever.

Nearly all of my golf “talent” evaporated when I grew 8 inches in an 18-month span during high school. With my wingspan now at 6-foot-7, my swing has become extraordinarily clunky, leading to frequent slices and snap hooks from the tee box and fairways. And I’m not going to even talk about my short game ...

For me, a “good day” is shooting anywhere in the mid 90s on a traditional, 18-hole course, so needless to say I won’t be quitting journalism to join the PGA Tour any time soon.

But every blind squirrel eventually finds a nut. 

On Sunday, May 16, I overslept and missed church. As I opened my blinds, sunshine beamed through the window — a much-welcome surprise after a rainy Saturday.

Still tired from a busy week at work and a late night the day before, I didn’t really want to leave my bed. But during my 11 months of living in Wyoming, I’ve learned not to take nice weather for granted. 

I watched the livestream version of my church’s service and put on the first clothes I could find — a Buffalo Sabres hockey T-shirt and Nike running shorts — while eating breakfast. I left as soon as the stream ended and drove south of town to Chapel Lane Links, a par-3 course on the banks of the Shoshone River.

Chapel Lane is a place that I frequent. Though I’m no Tiger Woods, the course is a quiet, peaceful setting to take some hacks, so I usually play (weather permitting) twice a week after work, often with friends. Because of my spontaneous decision to take some swings, I played solo on this picturesque Sunday afternoon.

My lack of preparation for the round was on full display to start. I triple bogeyed the first hole after a dreadful tee shot and subsequent three-putt.

The next hole I bogeyed, and then I hit a respectable tee shot on hole 3 for my first par of the day. I bogeyed hole 4 — the one that usually gives me the most trouble — and I wasn’t too upset about it. Slowly but surely, my round was improving. 

As I rolled my cart to hole 5, I ran into the owner of the course, Jim Battershell, who was playing hole 6 with his wife, Barbara, and friend, Mike. I briefly said hello and returned to business. 

I paced toward the tee box, which sits level with the green. Without taking a practice swing, I placed my ball in the grass, took a three-quarters swing with my pitching wedge and struck the ball. 

Off the club, I knew it was a good shot. Though it appeared to be sailing a bit left, I was 90% sure it would land on the green and give me a chance at a birdie putt, based strictly on the line and contact. 

The ball descended quickly and I heard a loud “thump.” Confused, my initial thought was that my ball hit the pin hard and ricocheted into the rough. 

I was so sure it was off the green that I put a second ball on the grass to take a mulligan. But before swinging another, I decided to look for my ball, as I still hadn’t spotted it.

I approached the green of the 100-yard par 3 and scanned the horizon, looking for my Top Flite ball. It was nowhere to be seen in the rough short of the green, and I didn’t see it on the back end either. 

Could it be? No way. There’s not a chance. Don’t get it in your head, Carson.

I inched closer and closer to the green, telling myself not to get my hopes up. There’s no way a golfer with my skill level could get an ace — or so I thought.

I finally stepped onto the green and paced to the flagstick. I peeked over the hole and, sure enough, a Top Flite ball was sitting inside — I got a hole in one. It landed in the hole on the fly, not taking a bounce or roll to drop in.

It was probably the most shocking moment of my life. My heart sank.

My arms shot above my head and I leapt into the air. For the sake of any young readers, the words that escaped my mouth mid jubilation will not be included in this column.

Hearing my unprofessional, arrogant celebration, the group of three playing on hole 6 walked over to see what caused this commotion. I explained what had just occurred, and they were almost equally excited. It marked only the ninth ace in course history and only the second on hole 5. 

After taking my obligatory hole in one picture and soaking in the moment, I called several of my closest friends and family members — most of whom are better than me at golf — to tell them the news (and rub it in, of course). 

My father is a relatively good golfer and has played since his childhood. But even with a 29-year head start, I hit the bottom of the cup before Scott Field.

“What?!” he shouted after I described my unfathomable shot via FaceTime.

How can you not be romantic about golf?

I can honestly say that I never thought I’d get a hole in one. I had gotten close before, but it seemed too unlikely for a below-average golfer like myself to actually hit the bottom of the cup from the tee box. So let this encourage you: If someone with my skill set can do it, with some luck, so can you!

Now what? The quest for my second ace begins now!

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