My wife and I went on a weekend trip with some friends to play golf. My friend, Randy Zonnefeld of Certainteed, has a lovely wife and three great boys. The youngest, Evan, decided to join us. I cannot imagine why a handsome 18-year-old young man would want to hang out with the old folks. But this is the kind of family the Zonnefelds are. On Saturday, we all went to the resort course called Semiahmoo, north of Seattle.
The day, golf-wise, started out pretty rough. I was pulling all my shots to the left. Not out of bounds, just in the left rough, the bunker, and sometimes in the left hazard. Fortunately, I was getting up and down pretty well and was limiting my damage to only bogeys. When I start playing bogey golf, I start talking to myself, that kind of self-talk where you berate yourself one second and then prop yourself up the next.
We came to the sixth hole. A par-three, the marker on the ground read 157 yards. The self-talk starts: What did the starter say? Pin in the back, add 10 yards. That’s right, so play it 167. Oh good, the pin is back left on a banana-shaped green. This will favor the idiot-me-who keeps pulling his shots. I will aim right-center, try not to pull it again, but if I do, it won’t be the end of the world. Start your pre-shot routine; step one, stop calling yourself idiot, idiot. Ok that was the last one.
What iron to select? I have not been hitting strong today, I semi-confidently select a six iron. I reaffirm my selection as I take a few fluid practice swings. Yes! A smooth six iron is right. Now if I can just put that smooth swing on the real shot. I pull the ball out of my pocket. I just found this ball on the last hole. It’s a new Pro V1, nice ball. A logo too, Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club. Nice place. What about the water around the green? I don’t want to lose a nice ball. Positive, Think Positive.
I aim toward the center of the green and make a swing similar to my practice swing. It feels so good that I am almost afraid to visually track the ball to destroy that feeling, but hope springs eternal and I search the sky for my shot, hoping it is on target. I find it, slightly pulled and drawing a little bit. I planned my day’s tendency well; the ball is tracking to the pin. It lands about two feet from the pin and trickles a few feet. Oh good! I have a real birdie opportunity.
My inner serene peace of hitting a nice shot is interrupted as Randy is shouting: “It just went in!” My wife joins in from the side, “I think you’re right.” I stand there confused and not knowing what to do, but manage to make a statement to match the possible magic moment. I ask softly, “What?”
Randy continues, “I think you just had a hole-in-one!” “No,” I answer in disbelief, “it is just hidden by the pin.” My wife chimes in, “I think I saw it disappear.” Evan goes to check it out. He gets out of the cart and strides toward the green. Not a word.
My hopes are growing; he certainly would have seen the ball by now. He pauses for a second by the hole and then continues toward the back sand trap. He stops, looks down and turns back toward us and points into the bunker. “Here it is!” he proclaims. My heart sinks and I think to myself, that is what I thought. A puzzled Randy quizzes, ”I did not see it roll that way. How did it get to the bunker?” Evan walks back to the pin bends down and picks the ball from the hole and holds it up high and shouts “Just Kidding!” Randy shouts and the group on the neighboring green looks over, affirming the magical moment: “He just had a hole-in-one.”
Congratulations are being passed around while simultaneously I am quizzed as to my lack of enthusiasm. It is a mix of shock and disbelief. Plus, I am not quite sure what is an appropriate response. But it was a perfect shot, no doubt about it.
The most important part of this story has not been told. As you read this, the young handsome Evan is in boot camp to become a U.S. Marine. Randy and Marilyn are proud of Evan and I am honored to have a future U.S. Marine pick up my hole-in-one. May God watch over him and Semper Fi.