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July 19, 2023

Two-for-one special? Why not?

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Hole in One

Odds of two aces in the same group: 17 million-to-one

GUNTERSVILLE – This is a hole-in-one story, although it is not just the average run-of-the-mill hole-in-one story.

It might sound a little bit fishy because what happened on No. 5 at Gunter’s Landing Golf Course Monday afternoon is super rare. But I can attest that it really did because I was both a witness and a participant.

Playing in the Alabama-NW Florida PGA section Pro-Member tournament there Monday, the team of Joel Gafford, Nick Wood, Clay Kelley and myself were playing pretty well by the time we got to the fifth hole, a downhill par 3 with water in front and a hill in the back. The green slopes back to front, and on this day the pin location was generously placed in the middle of the green.

Kelley and Woods, two young guys, were playing from the blue tees while Gafford and I, the group’s old guys, were playing the white markers.

From the blues, it was playing 165 with no discernable wind. Kelley pulled an 8-iron and the shot never left the pin, but hit about 20 feet behind the hole and began trickling back down the slope. His Titleist ProV1 didn’t stop rolling until it dropped into the hole.

Gunter's Landing Hole-in-One
The author and Clay Kelley (right) after retrieving their hole-in-one shots from the cup on the 5th hole at Gunter’s Landing on July 17. (Photo: Nick Wood)

Mayhem ensued on the tee, with high fives and whoops and hollers.

After Woods hit and came up short of the green, it was my turn. From the whites, No. 5 is 140 yards, although it plays a little shorter than that. As I teed it up, Gafford, who plays as our PGA professional, remarked that he had never played in a group that had two holes-in-one on the same hole.

He didn’t know what was about to happen. I pulled a 7-iron for my shot, mostly because it would have been a stretch to hit an 8-iron that far and long on the hole is better than short.

The Callaway golf ball I retrieved from a lake while playing Top of the Rock last week at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri, (see story here) flew straight toward the hole. Like Kelley’s, it was a little bit long, but caught the backstop and began its trek toward the hole. For just a moment, it appeared to stop before disappearing into the hole for a second ace in our group on the same hole.

More high fives, whoops and hollers

More mayhem ensued. More high fives. More whoops and hollers.

We drove down to the green and Kelley and I went over to the hole, and there they were – his Titleist and my Callaway were nestled at the bottom of the cup.

We posed for pictures. We laughed. We smiled. It was an unforgettable moment.

What, you ask, are the odds of two people in the same foursome acing the same hole? We wondered that as well.

According to tournament administrator Wade Dockery of the PGA section who looked it up, the odds of that happening are 17 million-to-1.

It’s not the first time Kelley has aced No. 5 at Gunter’s Landing – he made one two years ago also while playing with Woods. It was the seventh ace of his career and he also has two double eagles.

It was my sixth hole-in-one and the first since 2020 when I was playing at Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico on a media trip. That one was memorable because it came on a golf course I grew up playing in high school.

No skin for either hole-in-one

There was a downside to the aces, though. Kelley and I were both playing in the tournament skins game. Under usual circumstances, there’s a good chance a hole-in-one will win a skin. That wasn’t the case on Monday at Gunter’s Landing and Dockery noted as much, quipping that he’d never had somebody knock another player out of a skin after a hole-in-one.

Until Monday, I thought the coolest thing I had witnessed on the golf course was Charlie Krenkel making a hole-in-one and double eagle in the span of four holes at Ol’ Colony in Tuscaloosa a few years ago. And it still is cool. But to be part of a group with two aces on the same hole in a matter of minutes, well, that moves to the top of the list.

To be one of the guys who had one of the aces, well, it doesn’t get much better than that – even if I did break a cardinal rule of journalism by becoming a part of the story.

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

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Featured image courtesy of the PGA of America

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