During the spring of 1977, while teaching high school math at James Madison High School in San Antonio , Texas , I was also coaching the varsity golf team. I had a very unique and positive relationship with the head golf professional of Northern Hills Country Club, Wayne F. We were the only high school that could play on his private country club golf course. The year before, I would call Wayne every Wednesday to see if we could play on his course that afternoon when school was out. Most of the time he would say OK. The only stipulation was, an adult (me) must be with them at all times, and a maximum of four golfers.
During one of the first times we played in the fall of 1977, Wayne approached me on the putting green. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Pete, from now on, why don’t you and your boys just come on over each day Monday through Friday”. Wow! I was speechless. In the first place, Wayne was not what you would call a real talker. In fact, he was very, very reserved. He reminded me of Ben Hogan, my golf idol, in that respect. Secondly, to invite us to play all five days of the school week was just awesome. To say our high school golf team was excited and grateful, is an understatement.
March 17 of 1977, I decided to contact the junior high school golf coach of the junior high that fed James Madison High School . It has been too many years now to remember the school or the golf coach. I asked him for the names of his top two golfers, so I could play golf with them at Northern Hills, and see what kind of talent we would be looking at for the 1978-1979 school year.
It was a beautiful afternoon in March at Northern Hills. The two young golfers were very excited to be playing golf with their prospective high school golf coach at this private golf course, not costing them or their parent’s one red cent. The only negative of the afternoon was the wind. I never played the game in such an awesome wind since Oso in Corpus Christi , Texas when I was discharged from the U.S. Navy back in 1965.
We approached the ninth tee of one of the most difficult holes on the course, a par three of 217 yards. Normally, a mild breeze would blow into your face. Not only was it a long par three against a slight wind, but the tennis courts were or your left. If you pulled, hooked, pull hooked, or yanked your tee shot anywhere to the left, the wind would carry your tee shot onto the tennis courts. I wonder how many unsuspecting tennis players got beaned by an errant tee shot. Since most hackers slice instead of hook, it was probably no big deal, except for the lefties. To make matters even worse, the green was not that large, and even had several bunkers.
I let my two young friends tee off first. When it was my turn to tee off, I was overloaded with indecision on what club to use. Normally, I would use a 3 iron, 4 wood, 3 wood, or even a driver, if the wind was really stiff. But, on this day, we had about a 40-50 mph wind with us. I felt like a shot that landed 50-60 yards short of the green just might roll up on the green. But, I did not know whether to use a 5 iron or 6 iron. I had a little stall time, since one of my varsity golfers was working there at the golf course. As a matter of fact, he was mowing the ninth green, when he saw us approaching the tee box; he waved us on and turned the mower off. He stood there very patiently as the three of us teed off.
Well, I decided to go with the 5 iron. As I stood over my ball, I was nearly overwhelmed by a most wonderful feeling and thought. I had about the same feeling as I had the morning at the green board, when God was trying to get my attention on how to be a better teacher, or the time in Denver with Marcos, or with Mary P. in Lewisville , or with the Mormons in The Colony, or with our daughters Paige and Debra. I was feeling convinced my tee shot was going in the cup! I was so confident about the outcome; I actually stepped away from the ball, and asked my young partners, “Have you kids ever seen a hole in one? I have been playing this game since 1958. Don’t you think I deserve one measly little hole in one?” They were completely dumbfounded and were taken back by my question. But what happened next is totally unbelievable, unless you saw it.
At the time, I was hitting a draw on all of my shots, even my putts! I stepped back to address my ball, took my customary waggles, and let her rip with my 5 iron. As the ball left my club head, I shouted for the ball to hook. The ball obeyed me. I then shouted for the ball to hit hard and run. Again, the ball was obedient. It hit hard about 60 yards short of the green and was running pretty hard. I then shouted for the ball to get on the green! Again, the ball started running on the green. Then, I shouted, “Get in the hole!” Unbelievably, the ball went directly into the cup from 217 yards, using a 5 iron, with a hurricane wind, and it was called before it was struck.
Well, the two junior high golfers were screaming and rolling on the ground next to the tee, and my high school golfer was rolling around on the back of the green, and I was just standing there posing with my follow through. It dawned on me, AGAIN, how very important our thoughts AND WORDS are in everything we do.
I don’t remember the names of the two young boys. I didn’t save the score card. We played only nine holes that day. When I reported my hole-in-one to my friend, Wayne , the head pro, to have my name entered into a really big contest, Wayne told me he could not enter my name. He told me the members would really pitch a fit if I won, and I was not even a member of their country club. He also pointed out the two witnesses were not adults, and we did not play 18 holes. But, that’s ok with me.
God, those two young boys, and I know what happened that day. I did purchase a golf trophy for the accomplishment. It has a ONE with a hole in it for the golf ball. As I sit here writing this, I am looking at the trophy with the Titleist 4 golf ball sitting proudly in its very special perch.
© 2013, Pierre Cassidy. All rights reserved.