Thursday, March 24, 2022

A miracle a long time in coming

 Stanley - Thursday

On Monday this week, a miracle happened to me - I hit my first hole in one after over sixty years of trying. I had long ago given up hope that it would happen. I had come close several times, twice within 20 cms (8 inches), but there was no cigar to be had.

On Monday I was playing the 18th hole at the Metropolitan Golf Course in Cape Town. It is a fine finishing hole - a par 3 over water, out of bounds to the right and bunkers protecting the green on the left. Depending on where the tee markers are placed it can be as short as 110 metres and as long as 190 metres. On Monday it was 167 metres (183 yards) into a slight breeze.

Metropolitan 18th hole, with soccer stadium and Devil's Peak in background

The view from the tee

For the readers who golf, I hit a 4 hybrid. My natural shot shape is a draw (right to left), so I had to start it out towards the out of bounds. I knew I had hit it well and saw it start to curve towards the green. Then I lost sight of it - bad eyes! 

Since there had been a hold up on the last hole, the four ball behind mine was also at the tee. As I lost sight of the ball, one of them said "It's going in the hole!" followed by "It's in the hole!" I shrugged it off, thinking it was a typical golf joke. As we walked away, he said again, "I'm sure it's in."

As I walked up to the green, I looked round and couldn't see it. That raised my hopes a little, because I knew it had been a good shot. I looked at the rough behind the green. Nothing to be seen. Eventually, I decided I had to inspect the hole, so I walked over - unknowingly being filmed by one of my playing companions.

And there it was.

You can see my elation here.

A good shot augmented enormously by good luck. After all, the hole is only 10.79 cms (4.25 inches) wide.

And that ticked off one of three golf goals I had had when I stepped onto the course that day: a hole in one; an albatross (scoring 3 shots less that par; a hole in one on a par 4, or a 2 on a par 5); and finishing a round with a score the same or less than my age.

So here are some facts:

The odds of getting a hole in one are 1 in 12,500. So obviously, the more you play, the greater the change of success. Also, the better golfer you are, the better the chances. My research indicates that 20% of all golfers have at least one hole in one in their life times. For professional golfers, the odds are 1 in 1,250, ten times better.

For an albatross, the odds are even worse. I could find no definitive facts, but is seems the odds are 1 in between 1 and 6 million. I wrote this one off a long time ago, even though I once came within 50 cms (about 19 inches). It was in Johannesburg (high altitude); winter (rock hard fairways); probably a tailwind; and two good shots. I did sink the put for an eagle (2 under par).

With respect to shooting my age, as we say, I am more optimistic. In January I scored 75, one over my age at the time. Had I waited six weeks, I would have been able to check off the second golfing goal. This is an interesting goal because it changes every year - one more shot allowed to be successful; one more year of fading strength.

For a hole in one to be recognised, it has to be witnessed by two people. A friend has had one witnessed hole in one, and two accomplished when playing by himself. 

The traditional is also for the lucky golfer to buy everyone a round of drinks after the round. There were 44 players in the competition last Monday, so the bill was quite steep. Fortunately in South Africa, at least, the club carries some insurance, as does my homeowner's insurance, so I shouldn't be out of pocket. However, I wouldn't have cared if I had to pay for the whole lot.

I've been grinning all week.


Upcoming events:

Crimefest in Bristol:

THURSDAY, 12 MAY, 15.50 – 16.40
* M.J. Lee
* Douglas Lindsay
* Michael Stanley
* Robert Wilson 
Participating Moderator: Michael Ridpath

FRIDAY, 13 MAY, 12:30 - 13:20
* Kia Abdullah
* Antony Dunford
* Sarah Sultoon
* Holly Watt
Participating Moderator: Michael Stanley

FRIDAY, 13 MAY, 16:00 – 16:50
* Alison Bruce 
* Dugald Bruce-Lockhart
* Alex Shaw
* Michael Stanley
Participating Moderator: Zoë Sharp ( 


  1. Whoohooooooo! I've had two aces in disc golf in 20 years, but the target is MUCH larger and the 'holes' MUCH shorter. You can float on the glory of your achievement, now, every time you hit the links. :-)

  2. I hope they erect a proper plaque! Congratulations.

  3. Congratulations, Stan. You must have been grinning ear to ear. I've been playing since I was 14 and have come within 18" or 46cm. One of these days. Good luck with the remaining items on your golf bucket list.

  4. HURRAH! Now that you are (ahem) getting into shooting your age territory, I will be awaiting news of your accomplishing that feat. And I ask a favor: Call me when you do. As you’ve heard, my dad always did, and it will bring back and enhance those happy memories.