Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg man's ace one in a million

Phil Collins, a 70-year-old independent insurance agent from St. Petersburg — not the 1980s pop star — was feeling pretty good when he prepared to tee off on the par-4, 278-yard 11th hole at the Tides Golf Club in Seminole on April 30.

Collins had just rehabilitated a back injury thanks to a device he saw on an infomercial and finally felt good enough to take a full swing.

Collins, playing with friends in a Wednesday league, hit his driver long and hard, hoping to get it close enough for an easy birdie.

The ball landed short of the hole, rolled up the elevated green and disappeared from the foursome's view.

When Collins' playing partners — Richard Gaffney, Bob Johnson and Bob Shedden — arrived at the green, they didn't see the ball. It was in the hole. A double eagle. A hole-in-one on a par 4. An albatross.

"On Wednesdays, we play points, so the only way to get our money back is to get birdies," Collins said. "We go for broke on Wednesdays.

"On that particular day, I just crushed it. I hit it right where I wanted, aimed toward the left sand trap with a little cut. It hit short of the green and it released. It rolled toward the flag and disappeared. One of my buddies walked up to the hole and started shouting. I've had nine hole-in-ones, but this is the first double eagle I've ever had."

The 11th hole is wide and straight. The only trouble is near the green, where water from Boca Ciega Bay borders on the right and left. Golfers who try to drive the hole need to make sure it is straight or it could end up wet.

Collins' drive landed and bounced straight on the dry, hard fairway. Tides head professional Darryl Spelich said he heard shouts across the course and wondered what happened.

"I had a lesson, and I heard a bunch of screaming," Spelich said. "At first I hoped nobody got hurt, but then I could tell it was screams of joy."

The last time somebody had an ace on a par 4 at the Tides, it happened on the second hole. That hole is a dogleg that measures about 275 yards. Once players found out about the feat, they kept trying to cut the first fairway, which sometimes caused balls to whiz over other players' heads.

"I had to put up a net to stop them from trying it," Spelich said. "The 11th hole is straight, so there's no problem there."

Collins' shot was certainly against all odds. According to GolfWorld, the odds of a double eagle are about 1 in 1-million.

Collins is a 7 handicap and has been a member at the Tides for two years. After his ace, he was 4 under through two holes. He ended the day by shooting 5-over 77.

"I think I three-putted the next three or four holes," Collins said. "I was still thinking about it."

St. Petersburg man's ace one in a million 05/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Calm (Largo) and clamorous (St. Petersburg) converge Friday night


    If Largo and St. Petersburg high schools are going to be successful this football season, it will be because of defense. And if those defenses are going to be successful, it will be because of secondaries that are potentially the best in Pinellas County.

    St. Petersburg High School CB Anthony Johnson  practices with his team Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.
  2. Rays morning after: Secret to Alex Colome's success is staying cool, calm, collected


    The ninth inning couldn't have started much worse for Rays closer Alex Colome on Tuesday, who took over with a 6-4 lead and quickly allowed a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate.

  3. How will former USF assistant Tom Allen fare at Indiana?


    Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo doesn't sound particularly optimistic about Tom Allen's chances of keeping Indiana competitive in his first year as the Hoosiers' head coach.

    "He has some challenges," DiNardo said.

  4. ESPN cites safety in removing Robert Lee from UVA broadcast due to name (w/video)


    ESPN has removed an announcer from its broadcast of the University of Virginia's first football game next month because he has the same name as a Confederate general memorialized in statues that are being taken down across the country.

    Louisville lines up for a play against Virginia during an NCAA college football game in Charlottesville, Va., in 2016 ESPN broadcaster Robert Lee will not work Virginia's season opener because of recent violence in Charlottesville sparked by the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A spokeswoman for ESPN says Lee has been moved to Youngstown State's game at Pittsburgh on the ACC Network on Sept. 2. The network says the decision was made "as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name." [Associated Press]
  5. Celtics were only team in position to deal for Kyrie Irving


    The Cavaliers found themselves in a seemingly impossible situation when it came to trading Kyrie Irving. Not only did Cleveland need to try to extract the kind of price a team looks to get to trade its star — some combination of cap relief, young players and draft picks — it also needed to acquire talent to …

    Kyrie Irving, left, is guarded by Stephen Curry during the NBA Finals last season. [Associated Press]