Sunday 12 August 2012

Hole in one

You can tell when there's nothing much to occupy you when you start compiling lists. Some people love a to-do list, but I've never been a fan of them. I'm a man, so I like lists of things, not things to do. So, this weel, I compiled a list of Scottish golf courses that I have played. This, in part, is prompted by Scott's goal of playing all 570 or so Scottish courses. He is currently on around 280. Given I've played a good few with him, I thought I should tally up my own coverage.

After some thought, I settled on 75 courses. There may be one or two that have slipped through the net (or lipped out, as it were) but I think it's a reasonably accurate number.

The compilation of the list did spur me into action however. On Saturday I decided to play a new course and headed along the A1 then inland to Duns. And I was rewarded for my proactivity.

Walking up the third fairway I noticed the next pin was set at the back of the green. Sometimes it pays to note such things in case of blind approach shots. As it happened, it was the next hole, the par 3 4th, "Scottston", 163 yards to a green protected left and right by bunkers and with the aforementioned flag tucked in the back left corner. The breeze was off the left too. I selected a six iron. "Aim for the centre of the green," I thought and maybe the ball will draw towards the hole. I made a decent swing and a good connection but pulled it a shade so that the ball flew high and straight on a tight line towards the pin, rather than the safer line I'd envisaged.

Generally, I lose golf balls in the flight when they are at about 30 degrees but I was sure I saw this one pitch close to the hole. I bagged my club and advanced to the green, eyes probing the surface for my shot's ultimate resting place, hopefully close to the flag to afford me a birdie chance. I thought I saw it a couple of feet away but, no joy, it was just a lighter patch of turf. The closer I got I realised there was no sign of the ball on the green. I cursed the vagaries of golf. A well struck shot had once more pitched and skipped over the green. I trawled through the long grass beyond the green with heavy heart as it was not rough that was likely to offer up its bounty. Back and forth I waded, checking the line back to the tee to estimate the angle at which the ball must have entered the snagging fronds.

Sure that it had pitched on the green, I decided to check for a pitch mark to see if that could help me in my search. There was nothing obvious beyond the pin. As I passed the flagstick, I half-glanced in the hole and did a double-take. There is was! My Titleist 3 ball had evidently pitched some ten feet short of the pin and rolled in! My first hole-in-one!

I let out a strangled yelp and a half-hearted punch in the air. There was not a soul to witness it, or me. If a tree falls in a forest and there's no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound? As an off-shoot of my list compilation, I could estimate I've played maybe 200 rounds of golf (probably less). That's about 750 par threes, say. So to have a hole in one after 750 attempts is pretty good going. Even counting every hole, that's one in 3,600 attempts. According to this site, 12,000 to 1 are the odds against the average player achieving the feat. I've holed out a full wedge shot from 80 yards (on the 18th a Clydebank to win the hole and half the match with Scott) and chipped in from 50 to 60 yards on about 3 occasions, but this is my first hole in one. And one of my very few eagles. I've had a couple of twos on short par fours but I can't remember any eagle threes on par fives.

I failed to capitalise on my good fortune. From one under par after four holes, I followed my ace with a double bogey and went on to post a 24 over par 94 with a number of lost balls and poor strikes off the grass. But at least I had my moment in the sun at Duns.

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