TARPON SPRINGS — Gregory Bitsimis almost put his clubs in his car and drove away from Tarpon Springs Golf Course, a public course on S Pinellas Avenue, before sharing his big news. "But my big brother made me share,'' said Bitsimis, 82. And so he and his brother, Nicholas Bitsimis, 89, headed into the golf shop and told the shop supervisor what happened.
With the help of a 7 iron, Gregory Bitsimis, who, in more than 60 years of playing golf had nine holes-in-one to his credit, hit his 10th on the eighth hole, a par 3.
The customers applauded but more news was to come.
"My brother told everybody I made two hole-in-ones,'' Gregory Bitsimis recalled. "Everybody in the golf shop went crazy. I guess they had never heard of that happening at that course before.''
On hole 14, another par 3, with the help of a 5 wood, the golfer hit the ball 170 yards, bringing it to a career 11 holes-in-one.
After hearing the news, employee Nathan King researched the facts. Since management began recording such feats in 1986, 266 holes-in-one have been noted at the golf course.
"But this is the first time anyone had two in the same round,'' King said. "This is pretty amazing. According to Golf Digest, on a course that features four par 3s, as ours does, the odds of a player making two hole-in-ones in a round are one out of 162,562,500.''
"When I hit both of them, I knew they were good shots, but I didn't think beyond that,'' said Gregory Bitsimis, a retired printer who moved from Long Island to Palm Harbor in 1996. "At the eighth hole, it was 128 yards, and I couldn't find it, so my brother told me to look in the hole. We just kept playing on, and then on the 14th hole my brother said it again, 'Why don't you look in the hole.' I did, and then we both keeled over.''
Earlier that morning, Bitsimis assumed it was going to be a typical outing with his brother. They frequently play golf together at courses throughout the area.
"But, I do remember thinking that it was my late mother's birthday (Anastasia Bitsimis). She was a beautiful woman, and now I think it was some sort of destiny. She had something to do with it,'' he said.
After workers at the golf course took his photo to hang on the wall, the brothers left to go on with their day.
"This is kind of funny. Since I seemed to be lucky, I made sure to pick up a lottery ticket,'' he said. "You know, it's hard to pick the Powerball number, right? Well, I picked the Powerball number and one other number. I won just $4, but it seems like something was kind of going on.''
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.