Summer Links: A hole-in-one factory

Published: 9/14/2020 6:27:27 PM

The odds of a hole-in-one? Around 12,500 to 1, according to Golf Digest.

So what are odds that three aces were recorded in a three-day span over the weekend in Franklin County? Well, I’d guess slightly different than that.

It started on Friday. Standing at the tee box on the 11th hole at the Country Club of Greenfield, Elaine Goodhind pulled a pitching wedge from her bag. It turned out to be a great decision, as she holed out her approach for the first hole-in-one in her career. John Goodhind, Lora Gross and Tom Gross were on hand to witness the accomplishment.

CCG was also the site over the weekend of a second hole-in-one, this time off the club of Irene McDonald. Using a 7-wood on the 131-yard second hole, McDonald’s shot navigated the tricky green and found a home in the bottom of the cup. Dave McDonald, Al Woods and Irene Woods witnessed the ace.

Finally, Northfield Golf Club’s second of back-to-back par 3’s welcomed a hole-in-one on Sunday. Playing to 143 yards and technically part of his back nine (Northfield is a nine-hole course), the seventh hole was indeed lucky for Bob Perlman. Years ago, Perlman scored his first ace just one hole prior at Northfield’s sixth hole, but this time, he crossed another one off his list by using a 7-iron to accomplish the feat. Witnesses were Matt Deane, Lloyd Grover and Jack Letourneau.

The hole-in-one business has evolved into an industry. While no prizes are given out for aces during casual rounds, that’s not the case if said events happen during big tournaments or charity scrambles. We’re living in an age that includes hole-in-one insurance, folks. And it’s pretty good business, if you can get it.

How does hole-in-one insurance work, you ask? Pretty much like any other insurance, really. You – the golf course or entity that is holding the tournament or outing – pays a premium to eliminate the risk of having to pay for a prize if someone makes a hole-in-one during your tournament. That premium depends on several factors (number of golfers competing, value of the prize, etc.), but you’re paying a flat rate regardless of whether an ace does indeed happen.

I’ve played in many tournaments and outings where they’re giving away cars or trucks, maybe $10,000 cash or a trip to Europe. I’ve never played in an event where someone succeeded, but if they had, that insurance would be necessary. With 12,500 to 1 odds, chances are the insurance company is racking in some free money. But all it takes is one, or three in our case, to change everything.

Outings ramping up in September

With COVID-19 bringing the world to a halt earlier this year, the golf calendar was reshaped significantly. On the local front, tournaments and outings scheduled to take place in the spring were postponed, and many were outright canceled. Some have been rescheduled, and the month of September has been a popular destination.

One such outing is the 2nd Annual Chipping Away at Child Abuse Golf Tournament, which benefits the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin. The event has a new date of Sept. 28, and it will be played at Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston.

The schedule will look a little different this year due to the pandemic. All teams must pick a tee time in lieu of a shotgun start, though it will be a scramble format for foursomes. All players will receive a $25 voucher that can be used for the beverage cart, pro shop or restaurant, and raffle prizes and 50/50 will be drawn once all players are on the course.

Interested golfers can register online (cacfranklinnq.org) and go to the ‘events’ page. For more information, email Info@cacfranklinnq.org.

U.S. Open returns

After a postponement of about two months, the 120th U.S. Open is set for play beginning Thursday at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

It’s certainly been a strange year for golf majors. Collin Morikawa won the first major of 2020 when he bested the field at the PGA Championship last month in San Francisco, and this week’s U.S. Open will be the second of three majors played this year after the Open Championship (aka British Open) was outright canceled. The Masters will close out the season Nov. 12-15.

I had tickets and was excited to go Winged Foot before everything changed six months ago. As has been the case throughout the PGA Tour and USGA slates, the course will be closed to spectators.

The club has two courses – West and East – both designed by legendary architect A. W. Tillinghast. This year’s tournament takes place on the West course, as it did the last time the U.S. Open was held there in 2006 (won by Geoff Ogilvy). This will be the sixth U.S. Open at Winged Foot – only Oakmont Country Club and Baltusrol have hosted more. It’s certainly a challenging course when set up for this event. Just once in the five previous tournaments has the winning score been under par. Ogilvy took the title with a 5-over score in ’06.

That difficulty was on full display in 1974, when Hale Irwin’s winning score of 7-over was the worst in major history.

“We’re not trying to humiliate the best players in the world. We’re simply trying to identify them,” said USGA president Sandy Tatum.

My pick for the weekend? Dustin Johnson is the favorite at 8-1, certainly based on his recent run of play where he captured the FedEx Cup title. I prefer longshots, trying to maximize some value here in a tournament with a bit of uncertainty. Give me Justin Rose at 50-1 and Tony Finau at 35-1. Rose is already a U.S. Open champion, winning the 2013 title, while Finau has been playing very well and is due to break through and win a major title at some point. Maybe it’s this weekend?

Jeff Lajoie is the sports editor of the Greenfield Recorder. His golf column runs every Tuesday through the end of the season. He can be reached at jlajoie@recorder.com




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