Triple aces at Hunstanton
Have you heard the one about the guy who made three holes in one on the same hole in three successive days? I hadn't either. It seems such an impossible feat it sounds like pure fiction. It's true. The plaque by the side of the tee confirms it.
In 1974, Robert Taylor of Leicestershire aced Hunstanton Golf Club's 189-yard, par-3 16th hole (above) on three successive days.
I call myself fortunate to have recorded a hole in one in all the years playing this great game. I aced the 177-yard, par-3 16th hole at Clovelly Golf Club in 1991. I haven't really come close since. So for someone to record three in three days on the same hole seems, well, like a million to one shot.
My ace didn't cost me as much as I feared. The South African rand was about 15 to the pound in those days. My ensuing bar bill might've seemed expensive to my South African friends, but not to me. I got off lightly. I fear I might not get off so lightly should I be lucky enough to hit a perfect shot in future.
I wonder what it cost Robert Taylor for three aces on the same hole on successive days?
Taylor was playing a practice round for the 1974 Eastern Counties Foursomes Championship at Hunstanton when he came to the 16th hole. He holed in one with a 1 iron. The wind was more favourable when he arrived on the tee the next day in the first round of the competition. Taylor hit 6 iron and watched as the ball ended up in the hole. What were the odds?
On day two of the competition he stood on the 16th tee and his partner jokingly offered him 1,000,000 to one odds on acing the hole for the third successive time. Again Taylor pulled 6 iron and again the ball found the bottom of the cup. The plaque below is proof the feat actually happened.
The first known hole in one came in the 1869 Open Championship when Tom Morris Jr needed just one shot to play Prestwick's 145-yard, 8th hole. Young Tom went on to defeat Dad Tom Sr by three strokes to win his second of four successive championships
Jamie Anderson won the 1878 Open Championship thanks to a hole in one, and a timely intervention by playing companion Andy Stuart. Anderson was just about to play his tee shot to Prestwick's par-3 11th hole when Stuart informed him he was standing outside the teeing ground. Had Anderson taken the stroke he would have been disqualified. He re-teed the ball and aced the hole. Anderson, the defending champion, defeated Bob Kirk by two strokes to win the second of three consecutive Opens.
John Hudson holed in one at successive holes during the 1971 Martini Tournament at Norwich Golf Club. The 25-year-old Hendon Golf Club professional aced the 195-yard 11th hole during the second round and then repeated the feat on the 311-yard 12th.
David Russell aced Royal Troon's 8th hole, the Postage Stamp, during the 1973 Open Championship. Gene Sarazen, Champion Golfer of the Year in 1932, upstaged Russell by doing exactly the same in round two. The 71 year old punched a 5-iron onto the green and watched as it trickled into the hole. It was Sarazen's last Open appearance. The shot impressed playing companions and fellow champions Fred Daly and Max Faulkner. It also impressed TV viewers since the feat was caught on camera. Oddly enough, Sarazen and Russell were the oldest and youngest competitors in the field.
It took less than two hours for Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price to ace Oak Hill Country Club's 167-yard, 6th hole in the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open. The odds on that happening? 332,000 to 1.
Many play this game for decades and never make a hole in one. My host at Hunstanston is still waiting for his, and he's a six handicapper with a swing to die for. Harry Vardon won six Open Championships and a U.S. Open, yet he only made one ace. It came in 1903 at Mundesley Golf Club in Norfolk when he was convalescing from illness.
Moe Norman called a hole in one a "fluke," yet estimated he'd had at least 17 during his lifetime. What else do you expect from the the straightest hitter that ever lived, the man known as "Pipeline Moe" because he hit the ball so straight?
But three holes in one on three successive days? I'd never have believed it if I hadn't seen the plaque .
#JustSaying: "Any player familiar with a course must have a better chance of a hole in one than a player new to the course, but even then, and excluding the professionals, the odds must be about 10,000 to 1 against." Sir Henry Cotton, who had 18 holes in one