Even friendly pros, aware of the unwashed masses of double-digit handicappers who have holes in one, don't like to dwell on the ace. "I mean, some people skull it along the ground and get one, don't they?" says Laura Davies, a dominant LPGA player.
Davis Love III, who like Davies has made only two holes in one, remembers sitting at Kapalua with an amateur golfer after Fred Couples scored the only hole in one of his career a few years ago. "I can't believe Freddy's had only one," the amateur said.
"Well, how many have you had?" Love asked.
"Nineteen," the guy answered.
"Nineteen!" Love exclaimed. "Jeez, who keeps track of that for you?"
That's the question, isn't it?
It's unlikely that a pro standing on the tee is thinking about a hole in one, although the TV mikes picked up Nick Faldo's famous "called shot" in the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England. "This would be a good time to hole one," said Faldo right before hitting a six-iron into the cup at the 14th to help him halve his match with Paul Azinger. Then again, Mancil Davis says he always aims directly at the hole on a par-3. His only other tip is not to use a tee. "Beyond that, if you want me to explain why I have 50," says Davis, "I plumb cain't." Others plumb cain't either. The ace is golf's parlor trick, and to probe serious-minded golfers about it is like asking Yo-Yo Ma if he plays She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain.
Double eagles—now that's a fun subject for the pros. "I get much more excited about a double eagle, because, man, that's three shots [under par]," says John Daly. He has only three aces, but he has five double eagles. Making a double eagle almost always involves following a monster drive with a monster fairway wood, which accounts for the fact that only 200 to 250 double eagles are recorded each year. (The King of Aces, incidentally, says he has brain-waved 10 double eagles into the cup too.) But precisely because they're so rare, double eagles lack the populist allure, the tantalizing attainability, the catch-lightning-in-a-bottle magic of the hole in one.
Within a three-hour span during the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open, Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price all aced the 167-yard 6th hole at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. The odds of that happening, according to USGA number crunchers, were 2.4 million to 1. Before our morning session at Seaview, Gillogly and Rogers figured that it would take about 250 to 300 balls for one of us—more likely, one of them—to get an ace. "In this kind of situation, it's like mortar practice," says Gillogly. "It takes awhile to get the coordinates, but after that, you should be able to do it." I don't agree. It's not going to happen as long as I am here. As I said, I'm not hole-in-one lucky.
The morning rolls on. Two hours, 2½ hours. Five hundred balls, 700 balls. Gillogly hits the pin on the fly, and the ball comes down about 18 inches behind the hole. There is a five-minute span in which Rogers puts a half-dozen drives within the leather. But none drops. I start one toward the pin and shout, absurdly, "Get in the hole!" It gets within three feet. No doubt I would've missed the birdie putt.