In golf, a hole-in-one is normally a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. But not lately at the Chattahoochee Golf Course in Gainesville.
With 63 recorded aces at Chattahoochee since the course’s redesign was completed in the summer of 2007, those once-rare feats are happening at a remarkable rate.
"With this many hole-in-ones, the golf course has played a role in that," Chattahoochee’s director of golf Mark Bowen said. "The contouring around the greens and the elevation changes have a direct result."
The elevation changes, on the par-3s specifically, allow the golfer more room for error.
"Before the ball wasn’t as active on the greens as it is now," Bowen said. "Now, you can hit a ball on the fringe and the ball will roll toward the cup."
Not only that, but the ball also can take a favorable bounce if it hits anywhere around the green. Bowen has first hand experience with that.
Shortly after the course reopened in 2007, Bowen recorded the third hole-in-one of his career on the 222-yard No. 5 hole. After hitting his tee shot, Bowen watched as his ball bounced off the rough to the right of the green, onto the putting surface and into the cup.
"The ability to miss the green and have the ball kick into the green has increased the chances of a lot of hole-in-ones," Bowen said.That statement is evidenced by the large amount of aces at the golf course, and all of those aces weren’t achieved by PGA Tour-caliber golfers.
While the majority of the holes-in-one have been achieved by male golfers, two of the 63 aces were by women, including 78-year-old Nancy Norris.
"I never thought I would get a hole-in-one," said Norris, who achieved the feat May 20 on No. 17 with a Callaway 7-wood from 110 yards out. "Especially now with my eyes starting to get bad, but maybe that helps."
Norris’ accomplishment that day during the Chicks with Sticks tournament was especially rewarding because of how she started the day.
"I started off with a nine and I didn’t think I belonged out there," Norris admitted.
"That hole-in-one kind of made up for it."
But while the ace helped her recover from a rough start, it didn’t prepare her for what she had to do afterward: play another hole.
"I got a double-bogey," Norris said of how she fared on the next hole. "It kind of unnerves you. You think, ‘I’m not really that good.’"
Nerves are normal after hitting a hole-in-one, explained Bowen, who compares the act to a car wreck.
"It takes a while for everything to come into focus; you’re very stunned," Bowen said. "If you’ve ever been hit by an automobile, whether slightly or jarringly, that seems to be kind of what it feels like.
"You just freeze up," he added. "It takes about five seconds to realize what happened and then all of a sudden you’re elated. It’s quite an experience."
Just ask Sue Cronmiller, who aced No. 17 on April 27 while playing alongside her 20-year-old son Eric.
"It made the shot that much better," Cronmiller said. "I knew it was a pretty shot when I hit it, but I didn’t think it would go in."
While most experience a letdown after the hole-in-one occurs, Cronmiller said she was able to overcome the excitement.
"I think I parred the next hole," she said.
"I played it real well, even though I was shaking."
Along with No. 17 and No. 5, the other two par-3s (No. 3 and No. 12) have also had numerous holes-in-one.
The shortest of the holes, No. 3, which measures 118 yards from the white tee box and 140 yards from the blue, has been aced the most times (24), according to Bowen.
"I don’t think anybody could have anticipated this many hole-in-ones in this short amount of time," Bowen said. "You’ve got to contribute some of it to the skill of the players."
Skill, and a little bit of luck.
"It’s like the old saying goes," Bowen said. "‘The more people practice the luckier they get.’ Whether you’re 8-years-old or 65."