Normally, I do not put into my column any personal events but, on this occasion, I’m making an exception to that rule. If you are a golfer, you will understand perfectly why I’m doing this.

On the morning of December 22, Dan White (my golfing buddy for almost three decades) and I headed out to Crescent Oaks Golf Club for a Tuesday 11:30 tee time. We are both members of the Tampa Golf Group and we must play a different course each month. Since I am a rookie in the league, and have not played the course this month, we took the 35-minute excursion from Northdale to Palm Harbor on Florida’s West Coast to “hit the pee” before the end of the month.

When we arrived,

we were paired up with another twosome, Mike and Captain Kirk (don’t ask because that would be a whole new column but I did respond with “Live Long and Prosper” and the hand greeting when he told us his name) who were both transplanted Floridians. The Captain was from Minnesota and Mike from Maine so, for the first two holes, we conversed over what brought us to Florida. Yes, the weather.

After a triple bogey 7 on the par 4 opening hole (hey, it’s the #3 hardest hole on the course with water everywhere which I found) and a double bogey 7 on the par 5 second, we came to the par 3 third hole. As you can see, my round so far is nothing to write about. Please read on, my friends.

So, that takes us to #3 which is a picturesque par 3, as you can see from the panoramic picture at the top of my column, and is listed at 118 yards on the scorecard. After Mike and the Captain had teed off, I stepped up.

Luckily, Dan had one of those GPS devices that tell you exactly how far you are from the pin. He told me 117 yards to the hole witch was situated in the middle of the green a little to the left of center. Seems trivial but, trust me, it wasn’t.

Normally, that’s a 9 iron for me because I’m not the long hitter like I was in my younger years. Because there was a bit of a breeze coming at me, I chose an 8 iron to compensate for the wind.

On almost all occasions,

I don’t see where the ball is going immediately. I count on “Eagle Eye Dan” to follow its trajectory which is usually somewhere in the direction that it’s not suppose to go.

For some reason, I caught the flight of the little white sphere immediately probably because it went straight where I was aiming which is a miracle in itself. About a second later, Dan mutter “You’re going to be buying me a Makers” which is the code for the ball may go in the hole.

When he said that, I knew I must have hit a really good shot. I didn’t know because I was still admiring the flight of the ball and it appeared that it was going to land somewhere on the green. Hey, a possible par or, if I’m lucky, maybe even a birdie.

Well, when the ball came back to land, it was a REALLY good shot.

It landed just short of the pin and a little to the left. Then, it took a right turn and rolled into the cup for my first hole in one in my 67 plus years on the earth. That’s the above picture of me taking the ball out of the cup.

The funny thing was that the three guys in my foursome realized what just transpired before I did. My first words after I saw the ball disappear was, “Did that go in” and, by their eruption, I knew it did.

I threw the 8 iron in the air (it darn near went in the water) and accepted the congratulations from my playing partners. The neat thing is that the beverage cart girl had just pulled up and, along with the twosome behind us (yeah, I know you’re suppose to let them play through, and we did offer on the next hole, but they said they were in no rush) witnessed it. They all said they had never seen one and it was a thrill for them as well.

When I got to the green, I saw that the ball mark (where the shot landed) was about 5 feet short of the pin and about 4 feet to the left of the cup. Either the ball had enough spin or the contour of the green took it into its final resting place or, more likely, an act of God. Thank you, Jesus!

So, according to golf rules,

you are suppose to buy everyone in the clubhouse a drink to celebrate. That expense was saved due to Covid but I did buy my foursome, and the group behind who saw the ace, as well as a generous tip for the beautiful cart girl. The best I could do during the pandemic.

Now the hard part was trying to play the next 15 holes! For any of you who are golfers and haven’t had a hole in one, let me tell you this. IT’S A RUSH!!

Finally, let me encourage you, if you’re in the Tampa Bay area, to make it a point to drive out and play Crescent Oaks. Not the longest course but, with all the water and trees as well as strategically placed bunkers all through the layout, it is a challenge tract but an enjoyable one.

Thank you for giving me a “free pass” and tell you about this experience. I hope everyone of you that’s a golfer has a chance to experience watching the ball disappear from sight on your tee shot for that elusive hole in one.