Just One Shot
They say it takes just one good shot to keep you coming back for more. I have to admit, it’s true.
Golf can be a frustrating game for us beginners. It’s a legitimate time commitment to play a round, which becomes even more so when you can’t keep the ball within the theoretical ropes. Hacking it around a course for 5+ hours doesn’t necessarily make you want to come back the next day and do it again, until you have that moment.
For some, it’s a drive. One that catches the clubhead in just the right way and soars further than any you’ve hit before. For others, it’s a first par, or first birdie. Writing that number down on a scorecard for the first time can be extremely satisfying. For others, it’s a first round breaking par, or shooting your age. For me, it was an ace.
That’s right, despite a lack of competent golfing ability, I do have a coveted hole in one. And while it certainly jolted my excitement about playing the game, I can also let you in on a secret: it’s complete luck.
Sure, you need to have the ability to hit a golf ball squarely enough to get the ball to and in the hole, but a perfect golf shot certainly does not complete the recipe for a 1 on the scorecard. As an example, let’s walk through mine.
As I stepped to the tee at Lake Chabot’s Par-3 Course in Oakland, Calif. with my dad, the first order of business was to pick a club. For me, that’s pretty easy. If the hole is more than 130 yard away, that’s got driver written all over it. Shorter than that? I pick one of my woods, doesn’t really matter which one. This particular 120-yard shot convinced me to grab my 7-Wood (no shame here, I’m not a long hitter… yet).
Next, I had to tee it up. As I figured out where to place my tee on the wide teeing ground, I factored in the wind, whether or not I wanted to fade or draw the shot and… who am I kidding! I found the prettiest piece of grass and stuck my tee in the ground. I placed my ball, probably didn’t even take a practice swing, and took a good whack at the ball.
My saving grace with this story is that I hit a great golf shot. The ball didn’t dribble up towards the green or bounce of a tree and miraculously find its way to the hole. From my elevated tee box in the hills of Oakland, I struck the ball well, made a perfect divot on the green about 8 yards from the hole, and watched it roll in just the right direction. Had the hole been cut anywhere else that day, I can guarantee you my aim would have been the same, and I would have been ecstatic over just landing my ball on the green in general. It just so happened, my club choice, tee placement and the hole created the perfect moment.
I barely knew how to react. Earlier in the round, we had waved a more advanced group through, telling them we were beginners and they should certainly play through. They were waiting for me at the green, having seen my ball go in the hole when they were on the next tee box. They gave me some well-deserved ribbing for claiming to be a beginner. I swore up and down that was the best shot of my life.
But aside from it being an exciting and brag-worthy moment, a hole in one doesn’t say anything about your golfing ability. What it did for me, however, was assure me I had the physical skills necessary to play golf. The consistency? Not so much. And that’s what separates the bad golfers from the good golfers from the great golfers. But the ace reminded me that I can make good golf swings and the play the game well enough to enjoy it, I just needed to practice enough to get those results more often.