At about 10:30 last Friday morning, a car pulled up to the main gate of Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. A man leaned out the window and said to the security guard. "Did I miss anything?"
"Miss anything?" said the guard excitedly. "You missed the four aces."
"Dang." the man said glumly, "and I've got all their albums, too."
Those Four Aces were good, but these four aces were historic. In the first three hours of play in the second round of the U.S. Open, four players had made holes in one on the 167-yard, par-3 6th hole, each using a seven-iron.
"If I hadn't been a part of it." said Nick Price. "I would never have believed it."
Doug Weaver, playing in the first threesome of the day, hits his Spalding number 3 past the hole. 15 feet on the right. The pin is tucked in the front right corner. The ball spins back and straight into the jar. "The crowd sounded like a clap of thunder." says Weaver.
Mark Wiebe, playing seven groups behind Weaver, hits his Titleist number 7 eight feet left of the pin, watches it roll back down into the hole. Weaver is only 100 yards away, on the 12th tee, when he hears it. "I got to relive that sound again." he says.
Jerry Pate, playing two groups after Wiebe, has heard about the two holes in one. "Well," Pate tells his caddie, "we might as well get us one, too, then." Why not? Miracles are on the clearance table.
Pate hits his Titleist number 3 seven feet past the pin, watches it spin dead back, toward the hole, and dunk. Ace No. 3. "Other than winning one," says Pate, "that's the greatest feeling I've ever had at an Open." Both Wiebe and Weaver hear the screams.
Price, playing in the very next group and only the second player to hit since Pate, lines up his shot as he listens to a thrilled volunteer explain exactly how to make a one here. As soon as Price hits his Spalding number 2, the volunteer screeches. "That's it! That's how you do it!" And sure enough, the ball lands eight feet right of the pin. jumps forward and then rolls backward into what is by now a very exhausted hole.
Of the first 32 players through on Friday, four had made a one. This was either golf by divine intervention or the world's most competitive closest-to-the-pin contest. And you know that somebody sitting at the 6th hole was seeing golf played for the first time. These guys aren't so great. A lot of 'em don't even make it.
According to the experts at Golf Digest, the odds of a pro golfer's making a hole in one on a given hole are 3.708 to 1. The odds of four pros in a field of 156 doing it are 332,000 to one. Who knows what the odds are of it happening again?