Guest Post by Matt Bush @ Red Birdie Golf
A hole in one, on the scorecard, is nothing more than an eagle on a par-3. Anyone who has ever even picked up a golf club, however, knows that a hole in one is like a triple play, a quadruple double, or a 6 touchdown pass game. They are magical and fun to watch and only a select few golfers get to experience the feeling of seeing their tee shot drop into the hole. The following are 3 of the wildest hole in ones in golf.
Tiger Woods at #16 at TPC Scottsdale in 1997
When you combine the biggest up-and-coming star on the PGA tour with the hole known as “the loudest hole in golf,” you can just expect magic to happen. Tiger’s shot on #16 in 1997 very well may be the most famous “non major” shot in recent golf history. It is important to note that #16 at TPC Scottsdale is the only fully enclosed golf hole on the PGA Tour. Thousands of people pack into the stands just waiting to either crush a guy for missing the green or go crazy when the ball lands and sticks close to the hole. Even if you have been to Augusta, Pebble Beach, or even the island green at the Player’s, nothing can prepare you for #16 at TPC Scottsdale.
The stage was set. Everyone wants to see this young phenom who is taking the golfing world by storm. He steps into the box in the middle of the most raucous, crazy golf crowd on the PGA tour. Thousands of fans cram into stadium seats, skyboxes, and grandstands just waiting to see if Tiger can handle the pressure. The hole is playing 163 yards and Tiger comes up with a 9-iron. He takes his swing and you can see in his eyes that he knows it is a well struck ball. The next thing you see is the ball landing right in front of the hole and slowly rolling in. The whole place went berserk, beer begins to fly everywhere, and the next thing you know the entire tee box is covered in beer cans and it looks like the sky is raining beer. Tiger handled the pressure and went on to become one of the greatest golfers in PGA tour history.
Andrew Magee at #17 at TPC Scottsdale in 2001
There has been exactly one hole in one on a par-4 in PGA Tour history. This is partly because of how difficult and long championship courses are, and it is partly because so much has to go right for a hole-in-one to happen, but whatever the case, it is one of the rarest events in sports.
Andrew Magee is not exactly a household name on the PGA Tour. In fact, he has only 4 wins on the PGA Tour and 0 major championships. In fact, if you asked even an ardent golf fan who Andrew Magee is, there is only 1 reason that they may remember him. Almost 20 years ago, at the same event that Tiger had his famous hole in one, Magee did the unthinkable. He stepped up to the 332-yard par-4 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale and he nailed a drive straight toward the green.
If you watch video of this crazy shot, you will see the group ahead of Magee almost get hit with the ball as they were finishing up the hole on the green. Magee had no intention of even reaching the green in one, much less finding the bottom of the cup. In fact, he had not even waited for the previous group to clear. Tom Byrum, another lesser known golfer, and the man in the group ahead of Magee that almost took one to the head, was not happy about the encounter initially, but now he has a story to tell about one of the all-time great golf shots and the only hole in one on a par-4 in PGA Tour history.
Bob Mitera at #10 at Miracle Hill Golf Course in 1965
So far we have discussed arguably the most exciting hole in one and the rarest hole in one so it only makes sense to close with the longest. The longest hole in one on a straightaway par-4 in golf history occurred in 1965 on the 10th hole of Miracle Hill Golf Course in Omaha, NE. That day, Bob Mitera, a 21-year-old average golfer, hit a huge drive on a downhill par-4 that found its way into the cup.
There is, of course, some discussion about whether or not this particular event happened. Even right after the hole in one was recorded, there were many golf journalists and other people who did not believe the 21-year-old. But he described the conditions present when the shot was hit. There was about a 50 mph tailwind and the 444-yard par-4 plays significantly downhill (almost 300 yards of descent), so there is some plausibility about the shot. In addition, the 21-year-old was in good shape and had a very high speed swing. On the other hand, with golf technology what it is today, it seems very likely that someone, somewhere along the line, would have broken this record. To think that someone 55 years ago hit the longest ace on a par-4 in golf history is very close to unbelievable.
Is the story true? Many people believe so though there is no visual proof and the story has survived purely on anecdotal evidence. Either way, for a story like this to survive for this long shows that whether or not it actually happened, in golfing lore it is 100% true and it is one of the wildest aces in golf history.
There is something inherently special about a hole-in-one, and it seems like there are just some people out there destined for them. I actually remember celebrating my Grandfather’s 5th hole-in-one at his golf club in Warm Springs, GA when I was in high school. Everyone was celebrating that night and he got up to give a speech like he had just won the election to become mayor. The 3 shots discussed above are wild shots, but the electricity and magic surrounding a hole in one is always worth celebrating.