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“Persistence Personified.” If you click onto professional golfer Jay Delsing’s webpage, you’ll find those two words scrawled across the top. Makes sense, really. That’s because the very likable pro from Missouri sits atop the all-time record list with a staggering 565 PGA TOUR starts without a win.
Like Delsing, I’ve been waiting a very long time, too. Not to hoist a tournament trophy over my head, mind you, but to make an elusive hole-in-one.
All kinds of benchmarks, statistics and computational analytics are used to determine a pro golfer’s single season and career ranking: scoring average, greens in regulation, driving distance and prize earnings to name just a few. The criteria for judging the accomplishments of the average Joe Duffer like myself is much more skewed. Birdies, chip-ins, sand saves, the occasional round in the 80s, tossed clubs, snapped tees and balls plopped into the water on a single hole (my record is seven) just don’t matter. When it comes to calculating a hacker’s worth, all that really counts is if he or she has ever recorded an ace.
When it comes to calculating a hacker’s worth, all that really counts is if he or she has ever recorded an ace. -Bud Key
The “haves” apparently far outnumber the “have-nots,” a fact I find surprising given that the odds of an amateur golfer making a hole-in-one are something like 12,500 to 1 — this according to the National Hole-in-One Association of which I am currently not a member. Other publications and golf organizations liken the chances more to winning the state lottery. Well, I know a lot of folks who say they’ve accomplished the first feat. Funny, though. I’ve yet to meet a person who has picked all six numbers correctly.
Not that it bothers me all that much. In my twisted way of thinking, it takes a smooth stroke and enormous skill to consistently land shots on the green. It takes blind luck and a friendly bounce or two for a ball to actually find its way into the bottom of the cup.
I’ve got a friend of whose entire golfing career spans two rounds. On his second time out, he aced the 14th hole at a municipal course just up the road from me. The shot never got more than three feet off the ground, skidded the last 50 yards, struck a sprinkler head and then nearly snapped the flagstick in two. I’ve played that same par 3 dozens of times, launching majestic 8-irons that have disappeared into the clouds only to reappear on the green. Because of my putting woes, par is my best score there.
Because of that one shot, he honestly believes he’s the better golfer. Even worse, a lot of our mutual friends — all who have allegedly made hole-in-ones, too — think he’s right.
I’m fed up with being on the outside of the cup looking in. But what to do? I could try to put a foursome together with Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Mr. Magoo as my playing partners. I could stretch the truth. After all, I did once ace the very challenging 18th hole at Puttaway Mini-Golf. Or I could find a way to better my chances.
To that, I still have one ace up my sleeve. Some of my regular golfing buddies and I are planning a weekend golf getaway once the snow melts. And I have volunteered to book all of the tee times in Lancaster County, PA, where we will be staying. We’re very fortunate. TeeTime Golf Pass includes quite a few courses in the area, among them Crossgates, Four Seasons, Pilgrim’s Oak and Tanglewood Manor. All would be great choices.
But I think the gang will enjoy the dozen rounds I have planned at Springside just as much. That the sporty, lighted course features 18 par 3s is just a lucky coincidence.