It was conceived as a harmless hoax and a slick way to get our names in the newspaper, but afterward we all regretted it. The truth is that my friend Jeff didn't make the hole in one we said he did that sorry summer day in Denver.
Inventing Jeff's hole in one was a sophomoric thing to do, and, appropriately enough, our foursome consisted of high school sophomores. None of us had developed much respect for golf as it should be played. Frequently a day on the golf course deteriorated into amiable horseplay. On one such occasion we hatched our modest conspiracy. The course was sparsely populated as we approached the 16th hole, a 174-yard par-3. Jeff was the best golfer among us, and we concluded that his scorecard would be the least likely to arouse suspicion when garnished with a hole in one. He reluctantly agreed.
A six-iron was selected as the most believable club for the feat, although we all teed off with woods. For the benefit of possible onlookers, we erupted into enthusiastic backslapping and club throwing when we reached the green.
We tried to be convincingly joyous at the pro shop. To our surprise, we were not only not challenged but were heartily congratulated. Whatever callow satisfaction we expected to reap from the ruse evaporated when we encountered the real pleasure in Jeff's good fortune expressed by those in the shop. When we signed Jeff's scorecard, we knew we'd crossed the invisible boundary separating spitball ethics from something worse.
Our names were printed in the Rocky Mountain News, and the ball Jeff had used was mounted on an ashtray as a gift from the manufacturer. Seventeen years later I still wince at the recollection. Perhaps worse than fabricating Jeff's hole in one was getting away with it.
Jeff really did sink an ace years later, but the club pro refused to record it because there was only one witness. Jeff said, "I guess things equal out."