Today marks a very important milestone in my life.
No, it’s not my birthday. (Hint: It’s in August.)
And it isn’t my anniversary. I think that’s in September.
On this date – May 16, 1982 – I made my first hole-in-one. It also happened to be my last if you don’t count putt-putt, which I don’t.
It’s hard to believe that 30 years and a couple of thousand rounds of golf have passed and I haven’t made another one. Of course, I was lucky in the first place to make one. How many of you are still waiting for that magical moment to happen?
I took up golf in the summer of 1980, and by the following spring I was hooked. My family had a membership at Highland Park Country Club in Aiken – it’s now called Aiken Golf Club – and my dad and I would often go out and play on Sunday afternoons.
Not to be left out, my little sister Angela would often tag along. She would play holes 7 and 15 for some reason that has escaped my memory. (One time she called over this Dalmation at the 15th hole to pet it, and to her horror it put its paws on her shoulders and towered over her. Dad and I still laugh about that one.)
So late on that May afternoon we arrived at the 16th hole, the signature hole at Highland Park: a par-3 of about 180 yards that is downhill and very picturesque.
I do remember I was playing an orange ProStaff golf ball, because Jerry Pate had won the first TPC at Sawgrass event that year and he used an orange golf ball to win before pushing Pete Dye and Deane Beman into the alligator-infested lake next to the 18th hole.
Which is ironic that I was playing an orange ball because I grew up rooting for, and later attended, the University of South Carolina. As a general rule, Gamecocks don’t do orange.
I think I was playing OK that day, and I pulled my trustyPing5-wood for the shot. The ball hit on the left front of the green and took the slope toward the hole. Did it go in? We thought so, but we weren’t sure. The combination of late afternoon sun, an orange golf ball and the crusty Highland Park greens could be playing a trick on our eyes.
We hurried down the hill and, sure enough, the orange ball was in the cup. I plucked it out with great pride, and I really don’t remember playing the last two holes. But I did, to make it official, of course.
I remember the late, great Jim McNair Sr., the pro forever at Highland Park, was manning the counter in the pro shop. We told him what I had done, and he was very excited. He told about how he had made a hole-in-one when he was 12, I believe, and that he was thought to be the youngest person to make an ace for quite some time.
Numerologists will note that I was 16 years old, the ace occurred on the 16th hole, and the day of the month was the 16th.
The ace was validated by a small item in the local newspaper – “Boyette makes ace” was the headline – and I was even recognized for the feat at our high school sports banquet.
I do remember having a couple of nearly making an ace in the weeks after that, and through the years I’ve had a couple of balls scare the cup or hang on the lip. But none have dropped for a hole-in-one.
I’m OK with that. I’m playing in a tournament at Aiken Golf Club this weekend, and perhaps I’ll get lucky again.
If I do, it will be with a white ProV1.