by Rick Langenberg:
Talk about a shot that has commanded main stage attention and reported tales of links bravado at the Shining Mountain Golf Club–at least for the last week.
Jack Gordon of Woodland Park delivered the first local double eagle, hole-in-one in nearly 20 years during an informal competition held last Wednesday among a group of senior players. Gordon clearly conquered the short, part-4, 3rd by acing the 280-yard hole (from the white tees). His weapon of choice: a Taylor driver. And just how rare are double eagles, referred to as an “Albatross,” in golf? Well, only 16 have been recorded in major golf championships by the best players in the land over the last 150 years or so. In a typical year on the pro tour, PGA players may net 30 hole-in-ones, but only a few, if any, are double eagles and hardly any occur on par-4 holes.
For Shining Mountain, it surprisingly marked the second double eagle at the relatively tame 3rd, considered a must par hole for regular players. The last double eagle there was recorded by Doctor Andrew Mitchell, a well-regarded golfer with a single digit handicap, during the first summer the course was open for play. Gordon, who sports a 27 handicap, (meaning that his average score may rank 30 over par or so) knew he unleashed a great drive on the hole but never saw his shot land into the cup and neither did anyone else in his group. “We couldn’t find the ball, “ recalled Gordon who thought it drifted over the green. This is a typical landing area for many players at the 3rd, which challenges linksters with a tricky, heavily sloping green.
After undergoing a last-minute search, a quick glance was made around the cup area and the final discovery of Gordon’s ball, a discarded, third-class, cut-up Maxfli ball he found earlier in the round, right in center of the hole. Alas, a hole-in-one, a double eagle, an albatross, shot of a lifetime and plenty of cheers. For the Woodland Park golfer, it marked his first ever hole-in-one and a near record round at Shining Mountain. “It was sheer luck. No one could believe it,” recalled Gordon. Unfortunately for Gordon, his double eagle, giving him a three-under advantage on one hole and what amounted to an impressive 60 net score for the round, had financial consequences. “With all the drinks I had to buy everyone, it cost me about $60,” joked Gordon, who hopes to get some of this money back in the form of plagues and trophies available to hole-in-one and albatross recipients.
In normal golf situations, hole-in-ones are quite expensive for the victorious acers, especially when it comes to financing the 19th-hole beverages of choice for fellow players, who suddenly become best friends with the ace players. Hole-in-ones also are unusual occurrences filled with plenty of detailed story-telling, exaggerated or not.
Former President Bill Clinton tells the tale of how his first-hole was a miraculous, celebratory occasion, but he couldn’t tell anyone about it because he was playing hooky from his duties as governor of Arkansas during a key day the legislature was in session. (Can you imagine Bill Clinton having to keep quiet about anything that grandiose?) Tom Watson, five-time British Open Champion and U.S. Ryder Cup Captain of the 2014 team, tells of his quagmire in getting a hole-in-one at Pebble Beach as a young teenager while playing alone, only to learn it may not count because there was no witness. But luckily for Tom, the head pro at Pebble Beach agreed to fib a little and report seeing the shot himself.
But at Shining Mountain, fret not about the lack of talk regarding such shots, with double eagle albatrosses emerging as major public events. No one at Shining Mountain can be accused of shyness when describing great golfing feats.