July 16, 2008
Watching kids golf is kind of like eating broccoli or sitting through a long sermon in church. You know it's a good thing to do, and yet you find yourself wondering how much longer it's going to last. And then the kids go and pull a stunt like this, and you go from boredom to shock and awe.
Last week, brothers Davis and Hanks Massey, aged 9 and 11, respectively, pulled off a feat that borders on the unimaginable for golfers of all ages: They both hit holes-in-one in succession at the Par-3 third at TPC Sawgrass. (Couldn't do it on the Island Green, huh? Shame.)
How amazing is such an occurrence? This amazing:
The odds of two players in the same group making a hole-in-one have been estimated at 17 million-to-1 by Francis Scheid, a retired Boston University math professor who was commissioned by Golf Digest to calculate hole-in-one odds under various scenarios. The odds for a PGA Tour player have been pegged at 3,700-to-1 and a handicap golfer at about 13,000-to-1.
The odds at hitting the big prize in the Florida Lottery are about 22 million-to-1. Various Internet sites put the odds at being struck by lightning in Florida at 240,000-to-1 or being bit by a shark at 11 million-to-1.
Right now, some of you are thinking, "Wow, what an amazing couple of lads! What a heart-warming story!" And others of you, quite reasonably, are thinking, "What a load of ... " (We'll stop there. This is a family-friendly post, after all.)
So I checked with the writer of the story, Garry Smits at the Florida Times-Union. He thinks it's got the ring of truth, for three reasons. First, the kids' father, who watched the whole show, is PGA Tour Marketing Vice President Scott Massey, and in addition to the, uh, questionable judgment a PGA VP would show by lying about this, Smits said that a former colleague of his attested to Massey's upstanding character. Good to know.
Second, you can't just go out and blast a hole in one and expect the USGA to register it; it has to come as part of a legitimate round of either 9 or 18 holes. The Masseys were going out to goof around for a couple evening holes and happened to hit these shots, but in order to make them count, they had to be part of a full round. Problem was, darkness had already set in by the time they were done celebrating. So they contacted the USGA, found out that they could in fact resume the round the next morning, and thus went out and played holes 4 through 9 to make it a legitimate round.
Finally, as Smits says, "All of golf is an honor system. It would be hard to get three people to lie like this. Ultimately, we have to believe them."
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