Judging by the e-mail response to last week's failed attempt to get a hole-in-one, it seems most people in the Tampa Bay area golfing community have at least one ace. They have them on short par 3s, they have them on short par 4s, they have them twice in one round, and they even have them while undergoing chemotherapy. Then there is Charles "Bud" Wyatt, who took the time to chronicle all eight of his holes-in-one dating to 1973. Thanks for making me feel like a "hacker,'' Bud. Here is a sampling of the e-mails we received since our futile two-hour attempt at Largo Golf Course:
As easy as 1-2-3-4
I was playing at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., with a young guy who was just back from Korea. On the 13th hole, he hits first and gets a hole-in-one. The hole plays around 150 yards. The next guy gets up and hits it left near some trees, the next one gets on the green and so do I. The guy near the woods hits to the green and gets a deuce. The next guy two-putts for a par and I three-putt for a 4. Therefore, we had a 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the same hole.
Tony Paretta, Dunnellon
My husband, Milton LaFleur, has been playing golf for at least 20 years and is about a 10 handicap, but he had never gotten a hole-in-one before (although he had been close many times). I have only been playing golf for four years and got my first one three months after playing on a 115-yard par 3. Talk about beginner's luck!
We play in a Sunday morning scramble at Magnolia Golf Course in New Port Richey. During the middle of our round I got a call from him telling me that he just got a hole-in-one. I can't begin to tell you how excited I was for him. The real kicker is that unlike most people who get one on a 110- to 150-yard par 3, he got one on a 265-yard par 4. Is that incredible, or what? Most people understand the difficulty (and luck) that comes with getting a hole-in-one, but I think that only other golfers can fathom the odds of getting one on a par 4.
Cathy LaFleur, Trinity
Take that, Dad
The year was 1975 and I was 14. I just had a royal blowup with my father. He put so much pressure on me to play golf competitively that summer that I quit. Cold turkey. Told the old man I'd never play again. That fall, my buddies and I were on double-session classes at Greco (Tampa) Junior High, so we got out of school each day at noon. One afternoon, the guys asked me to join them for a few holes before youth football practice. I smuggled my bag out of the garage, figuring my dad would never be the wiser. When our foursome reached the fourth tee at Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club, we decided it would be our last hole. It was a par 3, 150 yards. I hit a 5-iron and, of course, the ball went in the cup. None of us had been in that situation before, so we decided that we had to play 18 holes for the ace to count. We ended up missing football practice, which got us in trouble with our coach. My dad was thrilled, but I never gave him the satisfaction of playing again until college.
David Poole, Richmond, Va.
Hole-in-one, then chemotherapy
Bill White, 73, of Pinellas Park and a snowbird from Ontonagon, Mich., has had seven holes-in-one! His last one was the most outstanding. In 1997, Bill and I were playing in a Pepsi scramble up north. At the time, Bill was traveling to Marquette five days a week for radiation treatments for colon cancer. It was 115 miles one way. He was also wearing a chemo pump. On the third hole, 140-yard par 3, he sank his seventh ace. Pepsi was presenting a mountain bike to anyone getting closest to the pin on that hole for the tournament. He sold the bike to help pay the bar bill for over 130 golfers playing in the tourney that day.
Donna M. White, Pinellas Park
A couple of years ago my three brothers and I were playing in the Rocky Mountain Italian Golf Association tournament outside Denver. The tournament has been held annually for the past 30-plus years, and it was the first time that four brothers played in the same foursome. As is the case with most tournaments, there is a table at the first tee where you can purchase mulligans, etc. For an extra $20 per man, you had a chance to win closest to the pin on two par 3s, and a shot at $10,000 for an ace on the par-3 third hole. The hole measured 219 yards. As this was a two-day event, your $20 covered both rounds.
Forgetting that we were playing a mile above sea level, on Day 1 I opted to hit a 3-iron that flew the green by about 25 yards. On Day 2, before teeing off on the hole for the second time, I suggested to my siblings that if one of us aces the hole, we should split the $10,000 four ways. Big mistake on my part! Remembering the previous day, I dropped down to a 6-iron for the shot. We were facing the sun when I struck the ball and none of us could track it, but when the two women spotters at the green jumped out of their chairs, I thought it was either really close or had gone in. Sure enough, when we got to the green, the women pointed inside the hole. The feat had never been accomplished at the tournament, and it was my first and only hole-in-one. I guess I picked the right time for it, but my big mouth cost me $7,500! We ended up pooling the money and taking a two-week trip to Spain, so it all ended well. I had the scorecard, ball, a photo of me taking the ball out of the hole and a copy of the check shadowboxed, and it now hangs proudly on my living room wall.
Michael Maestrelli, Tampa