December 1997. After a decent but rough-finding 3-wood drive on the Mid Pac Country Club’s 378-yard par 4 ninth — a deceptively long and testy hole that, as usual, was playing into a strong trade wind — I found myself facing a 165 yard second shot blocked by a row of tall pine trees.
To compensate for the wind I pulled a five iron, two clubs more than normal, and approached my second with considered intent.
Okay, rotate your grip clockwise to a slightly stronger position — right hand more underneath the shaft, left hand displaying more knuckles. Then close your stance moving the right foot back several inches. Finally, place the ball back in your stance – in other words, a hook set up.
Thus aligned I drew back the club, paused at the top like Shinto priest in full reflection, then swung, right elbow tucked close on my hip, delivering a tuning-fork strike to the back of the Titleist.
And look! Recalling the soul of a Catholic boy straight out of confession the ball ascended cleanly, piercing the trades, while shaping close by the right side of the blocking pines. Standing back while resting the club on my shoulder I could see that the distancing sphere had also begun bending beatifically around the pines before tear-dropping like a Larry Bird three-pointer just inside the left edge of the front bunker guarding the green. From there it began tracking toward the back pin placement.
“That thing may go in,” exclaimed my playing partner Jim Barahal, Honolulu Marathon prez, as the ball rolled inexorably, yet unhurriedly, toward the yellow flag stick whipping back and forth on the close cut verdant deck.
Suddenly, as if mouse to home, the ball disappeared.
“It’s in!” Jim cried, and we laughed uproariously into the coursing wind. An eagle two on the par 4! Since I’ve never had a hole-in-one, this was the best shot of my golfing career, modest as it was.
“That was probably the best golf shot I’ve ever seen,” said Jim. “Under these conditions, in the rough, blocked by trees, and you hit exactly the shot you said you wanted to.”
If only life the rest of life could be so fashioned. Happy Holidays to all.