The sun. It’s what every golfer lives for. There is nothing better for the average golfer than to be out on their favourite course in glorious summer sunshine. As a general rule, golfers live for the summer months and totally shun the winter, but not me.
I am one of those golfing rarities. A man who is more than happy to throw their clubs in the boot on a frosty winter morning and head off down to my local course. It was on just such a morning that I found myself standing on the tee of the 16th hole visualising my drive.
The 16th at my club is a 520 yard monster par 5. It is a ‘dog leg,’ which basically means that it is set on a corner. At the apex of this corner stood a mighty oak tree. This tree was was over 30 metres high and been standing in the same spot for more than 200 years. When the course was built in the 1920’s the 16th hole had been made as a dog leg specifically to accommodate it.
In order to reach the green from the tee you need to take your driver and at least one, or more usually two, fairway shots. There is no water on this hole but strategic bunker placements mean that it is an extremely challenging hole for an amateur.
In the 15 years that I had been a member of this club I had never once made a birdie at this hole.
This particular morning though I stood on the tee with an unexpected air of confidence. God and nature had conspired to hand me an unusual advantage.
It was two weeks before Christmas and the ground was covered with an icy frost making the ground extremely firm. Not only that, two months earlier, the once mighty Oak had been struck by lightning during a typical English thunderstorm. What was once a behemoth, denying direct access to the 16th green for generations of golfers, was now no more than a blackened stump.
One more thing to my advantage was that the tee to the 16th hole was elevated. This meant that there was a gentle yet perceptible slope from tee to green. Of course under normal circumstances due to the presence of the Oak this meant nothing. Today however, all these little things suddenly came into play.
I reached into my bag and withdrew my driver. Two weeks earlier I had purchased a Honma TW747 460. I had been looking for a carbon driver for some time and this club came with some pretty cool technology. Titanium head with a carbon crown and a hand rolled carbon shaft giving a low centre of gravity and explosive power. Justin Rose had been using it on the PGA tour so that played a major factor in my buying decision.
Despite it being only the third time I had taken it out of the bag I had quickly bonded with this awesome driver. As I stood on the tee I felt pretty confident. All the conditions were there for a genuine birdie attempt.
I went through my usual routine. A few warm-up exercises, a couple of practice swings then step up to the ball. Look down the fairway, visualise the shot, then, a couple of waggles, bring the driver slowly back to the top of the swing… and let rip…
I watched as the ball arced its way towards the spot where the Oak once stood. Still in in my follow through I was too transfixed to move. It seemed to hang in the air forever. Then, all at once it hit the icy ground. Without the tree in its usual place there was no barrier to the green. The ground was still hard from the cold weather and instead of travelling along the fairway and stopping, my ball just kept rolling, and rolling, and rolling.
Unbelievably, my golf ball conspired to miss every single bunker that might usually come into play and made its way towards the green. Seconds later it was on the green, and still rolling! What began as a Birdie opportunity was now in Eagle or even Albatross territory.
Then a miracle happened. The ball, still travelling at pace, hit the pin, popped up into the air and fell into the hole. Blimey!
A hole in one on a 500 yard par 5! That has to be some type of record. The irony of course is that this was the middle of winter and I was playing alone. Not a single person on the planet (other than myself) actually witnessed this incredible fluke. Sadly neither myself nor my tee shot will go down in golfing immortality. However from now on every time I take my Honma driver out of the bag I will remember that shot and smile.
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