THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY ...
Eamon Lynch, executive editor, Golf Magazine
The skies were angry that day, my friends. In late 2004 I played the Straits course at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, on a day so foggy that I teed off on all four par 3s without a clear view of the flag. At the 197-yard 17th—aptly named Pinched Nerve—I stood over a 4-iron, but when I glanced back at the green it was lost in a thick, gray mist off Lake Michigan. But, like George Costanza wading into the waters to save that whale, I ignored my better instincts and pulled the trigger. It remains the only good shot I've ever hit on that hole: my pitch mark was a few feet short of the cup and my ball rested three inches from the rim. It remains my closest brush with a '1', a fact I'm often reminded of by my brother-in-law, Mat, a terrible golfer who made his ace a decade ago. He has the scorecard framed in his basement. That '1' helped him shoot 99.
Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com
In 2002 I was in my early 20s and living in a second-floor bachelor pad in suburban Detroit that overlooked the seventh hole of a par-3 executive course that wound through the apartment complex. The track charged $10 for a round, but I’d slip out my back door and play a few holes at dusk at least a couple of times a week. No. 7 was 145 yards, slightly uphill, and there were two large oaks on the front-left and front-right of the green, so you had to hit a straight, boring shot to make the putting surface. The oak on the left regularly gobbled up my low-fade shots. I always wanted to sneak out one night and chainsaw that damn thing down.
Anyway, one summer night, I hopped off my couch, grabbed my 8-iron, putter and one ball and strolled out to play the seventh hole while the Detroit Tigers game went to commercial. The sky was black, but the exterior lights from the apartment buildings gave me enough of a look to put a tee in the ground and take a swing. When I made contact, I knew I flushed it, but I never saw the ball come off the face of the club. I never heard it land.
As I walked up the rise to the green, squinting into the dark, I couldn’t see my ball. My neighbor, a twenty-something slacker who had -- I was always pretty sure -- an affinity for marijuana, was sitting in a folding chair on his balcony staring into the night. I hadn’t noticed him perched there until his voice cut through the dark:
“Nice f------ shot, dude.”
“Where is it?” I asked. Turns out the ball had somehow come to rest right behind the cup -- no more than three inches off the lip. My stoned neighbor said my Titleist caught the edge of the hole on its way by, and gently rimmed out.
I tapped in with my 8-iron for birdie, and to this day that’s the closest I’ve ever come to an ace.
Those are the breaks, dude.
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