Friday, November 07, 2008

Every couple of years a hole-in-one story surfaces that sounds too improbable to be true. In 2007, for example, Jacqueline Gagne of California claimed to have carded 16 holes-in-one in six months, a feat so heavily covered—and challenged—by the press that Gagne hired a publicist. The media never definitively disproved her claim, but as more and more reporters investigated the evidence, the ace spree became less and less credible.
Now comes news of Curt Hocker, a 22-year-old from El Paso, Ill., who from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4 claims to have made five aces at El Paso Golf Club (he has witnesses for each).  "If somebody told me they made five holes in one in a week, even on a par-3 course, I'd say 'No way'," Hocker told the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star. "It's unbelievable. I'm just stunned. There's nothing I can say, other than it's unreal.”
Give credit to the Journal Star reporter who “spoke to everyone I could at the club, trying to get a sense if freak week in fact happened.” His conclusion: If it didn’t happen, “it's an incredibly complex hoax involving more than 30 people.”
That’s fairly convincing evidence, but why does it always seem that the same golfers who pull off these miracles also have some other stunning accomplishment on their resumes?
Gagne claimed to have shot a course-record 61 at a track called Eagle Falls. (The pro there later told Golf Digest: "We had just punched the greens, and I couldn't make a 10-foot putt that day. But she came right into the shop and said she'd shot 61.") And Hocker? He has two other aces this year in addition to last week’s quintet, and five of the seven came on par 4s.

"You almost want to think it's a bunch of crap," El Paso’s club champion told the Journal Star. "Especially on the holes he’s got them on. Nos. 12 and 18? I get [to the green] about once or twice a year, and I hit it as long as almost anyone. It's unbelievable.” (The 12th and 18th, both par 4s, measure 328 yards and 355 yards from the tips.)
“Unbelievable” is a word you hear a lot when these stories break. And for good reason: They’re not believable. That doesn’t mean they’re not true. It just means that without witnessing the feat in person (or at least on YouTube), you can’t get yourself to believe it actually happened. Which is why if I ever make a hole-in-one, I’m taking some time off from golf. I mean, God forbid I jarred another ace a week later. No one would believe me.

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