I have been playing Golf since I was a kid and I have never gotten a hole in one.
Granted I play about six rounds of golf a year and spend most of those rounds wandering through the woods looking for my ball like I am lost on a jungle expedition.
But regardless of whether I play one or twenty rounds a year, and despite the fact that it is one of the rarest possible achievements in any sport and requires a perfect confluence of factors to even be possible… every time I step up to the tee box on a par three it is all I can think about.
I tee up my ball, take my practice swings, take a deep breath and set my stance.
And then my mind goes bat shit.
Hit it go hit it hard smash it come on hole in one here we go come on man they are looking at you what the hell are you waiting for?
And that is why on most par 3s I end up hitting the ball 40 feet, or into the water, or somewhere I will never be able to find it.
I’m not sure I will ever play golf regularly enough to have a legitimate chance at a hole in one, or if I will spend the rest of my life praying that I just don’t embarrass myself.
My father on the other hand, plays golf several times a week now that he is retired.
And this past Wednesday, just a week before his 67th birthday, my father got his first hole in one.
It was in the seventh hole of the course he plays every week with his buddies. It is a hole that he has played dozens of times, wide open with swirling winds and a seemingly innocuous yet somehow magnetic lake along the left hand side that collects way more golf balls than it should.
It was a beautiful 73 degree day in South Carolina. He had already played very well on the first 6 holes of the course this particular day.
My father is a pretty cautious man when it comes to his golf game. He knows his tendencies and the bad habits he can fall into. He doesn’t overestimate his swing or his strength, and always takes maybe a little bit more club than he should. He’s practical. Not flashy.
His approach to his golf game is not unlike his approach to life.
The winds that day meant he would need some extra club so he pulled out a 5-wood which might seem like way too much club to some people. But again, he was being cautious. And while I can hit the ball farther than my father when I’m playing well, there are really no rewards that come from hitting a ball into somebody’s backyard, which is what I tend to do.
Sometimes their front yard.
But he stepped up to the tee box, kept his head down, and it happened.
He didn’t know it at first. It wasn’t until one of his buddies put his arms up in the “touchdown” signal that my father realized what had happened.
After some celebration my father’s group moved onto the next hole and continued, what turned out to be, one of the best rounds of his life.
Had he played a crap round full of deep divots and shanked shots, he could have chalked his hole in one up to luck, a fortunate turn that saved an otherwise lost round.
But that wasn’t the case. This was a great round, a phenomenal one, something he'll never forget. So it makes sense that his hole in one happened during this particular round.
Standing on the tee box I often feel myself wanting a hole in one just for the sake of being able to say I go a hole in one. I have never played well enough to warrant it but man do I crave it.
Like life, where I might crave a promotion, a prize or some other kind of incredible reward without having really earned it, I hope for that one moment, an unprompted panacea.
Sure you could chalk my father’s hole in one up to luck. I'm sure there are people who have shot 130 with a hole in one tossed in.
But this was a perfect hole in a fantastic round, a phenomenal shot on a tough hole that came as a result of the correct club selection and an undeniably perfect swing.
And I think there is so much to learn from that. In that for as much we may spend our whole lives thinking about something incredibly occurring, many times, that incredible thing doesn’t happen until the absolutely perfect moment. We can’t control when it happens, we can only hope to be present if it does.
The summary for the golf course describes hole number 7 as such:
This medium-length par three can be visually intimidating from the teeing ground. An elongated green, sternly protected by a long bunker and water on the left, makes proper club selection and flawless execution a must. A missed shot that travels long or right of the green will leave the player with a very difficult pitch. Bold tee shots played to the back left flag positions are risky endeavors. A ‘3’ always looks good on the scorecard.
Yea but you know what looks even better?
Happy Birthday Dad.