Schuck's Clipboard

Westview golfers defy odds by stringing together aces

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 7, 2020 12:01 am

An off-the-cuff suggestion that hole-in-ones don't seem so hard caused some Quincy golfers to either roll their eyes, shake their heads or offer a you've-got-be-kidding-me laugh.

They know there's nothing easy about an ace.

In fact, the National Hole-in-One Association estimates the odds of an amateur golfer making an ace are 12,500 to 1 and less than 2 percent of all golfers get a hole-in-one in a given year.

According to the USGA, there are 450 million rounds of golf played in a typical year in the United States and more than 120,000 aces made. Other research shows a hole-in-one is made once in every 3,500 rounds played worldwide.

So the frequency in which a group of grizzled golfers at Westview Golf Course is piling up aces is off the charts.

Three times in a 12-day span a member of one of the morning pairings at Westview made a hole-in-one. Dick Rhea was the latest to join the barrage of aces, making his on the par-3 15th hole Wednesday morning using an 8-iron from 135 yards.

Rhea shared a video on social media to help verify the moment, and he followed the unwritten rules of golf when the round was over.

He bought the beer.

That's not a cheap tab with this group. They play Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week, usually teeing off around 8 a.m. It gets them done by noon, just in time to enjoy a frosty beverage on a sunny afternoon.

There's typically eight to 12 golfers on a given day and few more on weekends, so the number of pitchers it takes to adequately whet the whistle is more than one or two.

Doing it in the age of social distancing doesn't make the post-round breakdown quite as intimate, but checking the scorecards and sharing tales of wayward shots still exists. So do the barbs fired in every direction, especially at those yet to join the ace brigade.

There aren't many of those left.

Of the 11 golfers who played Wednesday, they counted 25 career aces among them. If that seems like a relatively high number, consider this -- four of those have come this year.

If it weren't for a pandemic, how many more would they have?

The run of aces started in March, just days before the stay-at-home orders were issued in Illinois. Jim Adams recorded his first-ever hole-in-one on the par-3 ninth hole, watching his shot hit the middle of the green and bounce directly into the cup.

The course was shut down for nearly seven weeks thereafter, reopening May 1. It took some time to get back in rhythm and for regulations regarding cart usage and size of groups to return to normal, but once everything did, Adams doubled up on the times he witnessed an ace.

He'd witnessed two in more than 30 years of golfing, then saw two on consecutive Fridays.

It started with Tom Obert on July 24. He hit a 7-iron on the 150-yard, par-3 11th hole, watched it land on the front of the green and roll into the cup. Adams, Tom Reckers, Mike Dicks and Dick Rhea were there to verify it.

One week later, playing the 119-yard, par-3 15th with a gap wedge, Art Brown hit a shot that landed past the pin and spun backward into the hole. This time, Obert witnessed the ace, along with Adams, Dicks and Barry Cheyne.

So the most asked question this week had been: Who gets a hole-in-one Friday?

Rhea didn't wait that long. His shot cleared the bunker, hit the fringe and kicked toward the hole. Because of the pin location, no one in the group saw the ball drop in the cup, but there it was nestled next to the pin when they reached the green.

It was his fourth career ace, another reason for the suggestion an ace doesn't seem so hard.

Rhea and others have played long enough to refute that, no matter how easy it may seem.