"I got an idea," says Joe Cirigliano, one of my buddies. "Let's try it blindfolded." We all take a crack at swinging with our eyes closed. Rogers actually finds the green. Elwood Williams, a friend and the final member of our sixsome, finds the rain shelter, which is located behind a clump of trees just to the left of the tee.
Cirigliano's idea is not so crazy, though. In 1970 Charlie Boswell, the famous blind champion, aced the 141-yard 14th at Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham with a six-iron. And in May 1994 an 82-year-old gentleman named Philip Lopiano used a five-wood to ace the 136-yard 17th hole at Glen Brook Country Club in Stroudsburg, Pa., even though a condition known as macular degeneration has left him nearly blind. "I can see the ball when I look down on it directly," says Lopiano, "but I can't see it once I hit it." As he lined up his tee shot on 17, one of his playing partners, Ray Cook, directed him toward the green and told him that the pin was set on the left side, just behind a trap.
"It went in!" exclaimed Cook after Lopiano tagged the yellow ball he uses to increase his chances of seeing it.
"In the trap?" asked Lopiano.
"In the hole!" said Cook.
The story went out on the AP wire, and Lopiano, who had two previous aces, heard from golfers all over the world. "I even did a radio interview from Japan, and they sent me one of those screens that, you know, people stand behind when they're changing clothes," says Lopiano. "It's a beautiful thing."
I wondered to what extent the joy of scoring a hole in one was moderated by not being able to see it go in the hole. "Well, when I go to the hospital for my eyes, I see dozens of children who will never see," says Lopiano, "so I'm sure not going to complain about not seeing a hole in one."
Holes in one have been scored on drives that bounced off trees and bridges, off rakes and sprinklers, off frozen ponds, off wires strung above the greens and snow fences set up behind them, off farm implements and farm animals. Last March, while playing the Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club course in Suffolk, England, Neville Rowlandson, 56, skulled his tee shot at number 1 along the ground. It struck a marker in front of the tee, caromed to the right, traveled 25 yards, struck the pin on the 18th green and dropped into the cup. Golf World called the miracle shot a "course in one."
Holes in one have been scored by one-armed golfers and golfers in wheelchairs, by righthanded golfers hitting lefty, by left-handed golfers hitting righty, by joking golfers hitting from their knees, by golfers too drunk to know what they had done. Davis says he once hit a three-iron off the tee and watched it go dead right, strike a small mesquite tree ("Hitting a tree in west Texas is stranger than getting a hole in one," says the King), kick left, hit a sprinkler and roll in the hole. "Just no rhyme nor reason for that kinda thing," Davis drawls.
There are countless tales of husbands and wives acing the same hole, of brothers and sisters acing different holes on different courses on the same day, of mothers and daughters acing the same hole one year apart. (And they say the family structure has disintegrated!) You want parallelism? During the Skins Game on Nov. 29, 1987, Lee Trevino aced the 17th at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. (it was only his second hole in one, and he has had only one since), to win $175,000. Amazingly, that same week another Lee Trevino, a female amateur and no relation, aced the 119-yard 13th at Caloosa Golf and Country Club in Sun City Center, Fla.