Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

Like so many other pursuits, golf makes you wait out the ordinary to experience the phenomenal.

This morning I got the papers in the dark, turned and saw the full moon hanging low in the western sky. Two full moons in December, this second one punctuating the end of the decade. I threw back my coffee and checked the headlines, grateful knowing that no matter what names I may be called, I'll never be known as the Underpants Terrorist.

It hadn't hit 50 degrees when I pulled into the parking lot at Rancho and each exhale instantly became a cloud as we marched up the first fairway.

The round was unremarkable except for the day unfolding, first a thick mist, then bright shafts of sun slicing low through the trees, the warmth arriving about nine. Then it stopped being unremarkable and started being downright eerie.

On the sixteenth tee box, Tom said (and this is nearly an exact quote), "You know, it's inevitable that one of us is eventually going to shoot a hole-in-one." Now, Tom is a high handicapper and not given to wild prognostications of this sort. His present golf goal is to break 90 at Rancho and, given his recent improvement, I'm sure he'll do it. However, he really has no business tempting fate on a 170 yard nasty par 3 like the 16th hole. I've been playing for over 40 years and never had an ace.

I had already played my ball left of the green and was stowing my bag on the adjacent fairway when I heard the screams, not shouts, mind you, but screams. I turned to see Tom and Richard, arms aloft and, in Tom's case, hat askew, bellowing wildly. I was excited, we all were, and I was embarrassed to have missed it. Upon arriving at the green, I crept on all fours to the cup to see the ball tucked against the bottom of the pin.

Golf Digest reported that the odds of an amateur shooting a hole-in-one are roughly one in 13 thousand.

What do you suppose the odds are when preceded by a statement that it's inevitable? Impossible?

They're still debating whether Babe Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series. There is no argument about this heroic feat. Tom Patchett called his own hole-in-one.

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