Jeff Hohman stepped up to the par-4 17th hole at Springwood Golf Course on Saturday and told his longtime friend, Mike Kassolis, that he was going to drive the green.
It was a bold call, but not overly crazy, since the hole plays 310 yards from the blue tees — the tees they were playing — and Hohman says he can hit his driver 320-330 yards.
Sure enough, Hohman drove the green, watching his ball bounce onto the putting surface, but then disappear once it approached the flag. Thinking that his ball either settled perfectly behind the flagstick, blocking it from his view, or that it may have run off the back of the green, Hohman and Kassolis began their drive up to the hole.
When the two got up to the putting surface, however, Hohman's ball was nowhere to be found. It wasn't on the green, nor was it off the back. So, Hohman took a shot in the dark and walked up to the hole to see if he did the unthinkable.
"I just threw my hat off and threw my hands up," Hohman said when he saw that his ball was in fact in the hole.
Long odds: The odds of making a hole-in-one on a par 3 are listed at roughly 13,000-to-1. Those long odds look manageable when you compare them to what Hohman did on Saturday by making a hole-in-one on a par 4, also called an albatross (3 under par on a hole). An albatross is listed on most websites and golf articles at 6,000,000-to-1 odds.
Making an albatross, or more commonly referred to as a double-eagle, is a much rarer feat in the game of golf than a hole-in-one on a par 3. For the most part, an albatross will come on par 5s, when a player holes out on his second shot. What Hohman accomplished by holing out his tee shot on the par 4, well, that's even more improbable than making a two on a par 5.
Rare company: In the history of the PGA Tour, there has only been one instance of a player making a hole-in-one on a par 4. His name was Andrew Magee and he did it back in 2001 at TPC Scottsdale at the FBR Open, which has since been renamed the Phoenix Open. But even his ace can't quite hold a candle to Hohman's.
Magee drove the par-4 17th hole at the course while the threesome in front of his group was still on the green. Magee's ball would've nestled up nicely near the hole for a good look at eagle, had it not ricocheted off the putter of Tom Byrum and into the cup.
But, the lefty Hohman did it all on his own — no ricochets. All he did was play a nice little left-to-right draw with his Callaway driver and one-hop it into the cup.
"He threw his hat off and his club in the air and I immediately said 'it's not in," Kassolis said. "So, I went over there and sure enough, I didn't see it at first and I went around to the other side of the hole and it was in there."
Costly for his partner: While Kassolis was both shocked and excited for his friend, who he's played golf with since they were teenagers, the moment was bittersweet. Neither guy ever had a hole-in-one and the two had a running bet going that whoever made the first ace in their career, the loser had to pay for the first $250 worth of drinks after the round.
So, when the two finished their round a hole later, they opened up a tab at the clubhouse to all golfers at Springwood (a golfing tradition after an ace) and Kassolis was left to pick up the bar tab for the first $250.
According to Bill Brander, who is the head golf pro at nearby Heritage Hills Golf Resort, which is the sister course to Springwood, he can't think of another time that a player made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole at Springwood. The only other time he can remember a player making an ace on a par 4 at either of the two courses was when a player holed out his drive on the par-4 fourth hole at Heritage Hills about four or five years ago.
Brander, who was not working on Saturday, did call Hohman to congratulate him on the feat, is sending him a certificate for his accomplishment and is also working with the grounds crew at Springwood to send Hohman one of the flags used on the hole. As for a possible plaque or sign on the 17th tee to commemorate his accomplishment, and for others in the future to envy, Brander is still discussing that option with staff members at Springwood.
More good luck: Hohman, who lives in Westminster, Maryland, makes the commute north to play the course on a fairly regular basis since Kassolis lives along the ninth fairway. Hohman credits a guy who sold him four dozen used Pro V1 golf balls for $20 a couple holes before his ace as the reason why he could muster up the distance to reach the 17th green.
Hohman is about a 20 handicap and shot 91 for the round. Afterward, he and Kassolis tested Hohman's new-found good fortunes further by going to a casino later that night.
"I won like $1,000 playing craps," Hohman said, while Kassolis stayed a bit longer and won close to $4,000.
Some guys seem to have all the luck.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker