The hole-in-one is the ultimate thrill in golf. The odds of getting an ace are so high that most people never get to experience that thrill. Most people have never been in a group to witness one, either.
This summer the odds dropped for a few area golfers. Not only did six golfers score holes-in-one, but two people were witnesses for more than one of the feats. You will have to calculate those odds!
Every hole-in-one has an interesting twist to the story and the following tales are no exception. Let's take a look at who experienced that thrill of a lifetime.
Our first thrillseeker used to be my neighbor. Todd Focht was too little to swing a golf club when I first saw him playing in the backyard. That obviously is no longer the case, because not only can he swing a golf club, he does so with great accuracy as his ace will attest.
Playing with his father Rich in a scratch league at Seneca Hills, Todd aced the 15th hole, a par 3 measuring some 125 yards. Using a pitching wedge (no, I can't hit a wedge that far) he sank his tee shot while playing against Jerry Gallo and Rich Terry.
I'm sure that Todd was excited about his first hole-in-one, but no more so than dad. Rich had learned the game from his father and was sorry that his own father had not been able to witness his aces. Yes, that term was plural.
Todd has some time to catch up with dad, but he has some work to do. Rich played the game for 48 years without an ace, but check out what he has done lately. His first ace came at Mohawk Country Club on the second hole. Interestingly enough, a hole that also measured 125 yards and you can guess what club he used. It came a few weeks after he put his tee shot on the same hole in the cup, but since he was playing alone and had no witnesses it didn't officially count.
That would be enough of a story had he stopped there, but there's more. Since that first ace, Rich has scored a hole-in-one on each of the other par 3s at Mohawk. Let me repeat that. Rich Focht has aced each par 3 at Mohawk Country Club! He doesn't know if that puts him in a class by himself or not. Well it does as far as I'm concerned. Holy cow! That is just incredible.
Cathy Weis told me that she had never witnessed a hole-in-one before this summer. Then she saw two in the space of about ten days. The first hole-in-one was recorded by her husband Tim, who aced the 15th at Loudon Meadows. The two were playing together and a couple of golfers who happened to be strolling down the 14th fairway got to see the shot as well. Though it was not Tim's first ace, it was the first one Cathy had a chance to witness.
Ten days later Cathy and Tim were playing the same course with friends Jill and Cash Pixley. Wouldn't you know that on the 18th Cash sent his tee shot into the cup for his first hole-in-one. Yes, there does seem to be a common denominator to this golf equation. You'll have to contact Cathy to see if she can play with your group on the next trip to a course!
Then there is the curious case of Leonard Donaldson. He also was witness to a pair of aces this summer. Playing with Terry Munger, Gus Munger, and his brother Paul Donaldson, Len was witness to an ace on the 13th hole at Birch Run. Terry Munger was the shotmaker on this day and I'll let you guess the distance and the club used. If you said 125 yards and a pitching wedge, give yourself a pat on the back. Seriously, from a buck twenty-five out, I'm likely to use an 8-iron. If it goes in the hole, I will not be too proud to admit what club I used.
Munger's ace puts him into a special club. He also bowls and you know what that means. Yes, he has rolled a perfect game and now belongs to a group that I would love to join. If you didn't have to roll so many strikes in a row
A few weeks later Len Donaldson joined his brother, Terry Flipse and George Wolph for a round at Sycamore Hills. This time it was brother Paul that pulled out a 6-iron for a 150-yard shot (finally, someone who hits MY distance) on the Blue Course fifth hole. The ball came to rest in the bottom of the cup and now Len is in demand as a playing partner.
The latest ace took place this past week and I'd like to think I had something to do with it. New Riegel High School's Andrew Hohman used a seven-iron to get his hole-in-one on the second at Seneca Hills. His shot took place in a high school golf match, which had to give the young man an awesome feeling.
So what did I have to do with Hohman's ace? Well I retired before I had a chance to teach him, but I did have his mother Tonya and father Scott in the classroom. I'm almost positive that I imparted some pertinent information to them that they were able to pass on to their son that translated into a golf swing that enabled him to ace the
Nah, I got nothing. I had nothing to do with his ace or any of the other ones talked about in this column. One thing I do know, however. Getting a hole-in-one is a big thrill. Congratulations to all the members of the hole-in-one club!
All of the witnesses should take heart as well. I have seen Cathy and Jill swing a golf club. They have a chance to join the club. I've also seen Len golf Just remember buddy that there is a certain amount of luck involved in acing a hole.
If I can do it - so can you!
Al Stephenson is The A-T's golf columnist.
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