The day Bill Brown made his third career hole-in-one, in 1996, he set a most unusual goal for himself.
To reach it, he'd have to make three more aces, which seemed improbable considering Brown was 69 years old when he made ace No. 3. If he did make three more aces, the Aiken golfer would meet his goal of having the same number of aces as toes on his left foot. Call it the "search for six."
Brown's journey is over. He made ace No. 6 on Dec. 18, 2000, on the 100-yard fifth hole at Aiken's Cedar Creek Golf Club, where he and his wife, Donna, have lived off the second fairway for three years.
"Finally, I got it," said the 74-year-old Brown. "I wanted that sixth one really bad."
"You know and I know there are people out there who have made six holes-in-one and more," Brown said. "I don't believe there is anybody in the world who has made six holes-in-one that has six toes on one foot." Brown, a native of Pennsylvania who spent 35 years in Dallas as a Yellow Pages salesman, got the idea for the matching aces/toes quest from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Back in the 1970s, when they won four Super Bowls, they had a slogan that since they had a ring for every finger, they wanted one for the thumb," Brown said. "They never got the one for the thumb, but the idea was born in my mind. When I made my third ace, I said, 'Hey, Bill, wouldn't it be cool if you could get a hole-in-one for each toe on your left foot?"
It wasn't until Brown made the sixth hole-in-one that he started telling people about his six toes, not that he's embarrassed by it.
"I hardly ever talked about it," Brown said. "That's why I'm sort of amazed at the reaction this thing has created."
Links magazine, a national golf publication, is working on an article on Brown's "six-for-six" feat. And his podiatrist, Dr. Mackie Walker Jr., has submitted a story to the American Association of Podiatry for its newsletter.
Brown's extra toe is located to the right of his little toe. Unless you counted the toes, it's hardly noticeable.
"Everybody says it's perfect," Brown said. "It looks like any other foot, except it's got six toes."
The extra toe doesn't cause Brown any discomfort, just a lot of gas money. He has to make special trips to find stores that carry his shoe size - 13 1/2 , extra wide. He also wishes more companies made shoes with square toes instead of round toes.
"My dad took me to the doctor when I was little and asked if he thought I should have it removed," Brown said. "He said if it wasn't causing any problems, it was OK."
After playing golf for 30 years, Brown's first ace came in 1977. It was followed by aces in 1986, 1996, 1997, 1998 and then 2000.
"A guy recently told me, 'I noticed you've come on strong with the aces in the last five years," Brown said. "I explained that I retired in 1988 and started playing more golf.
"I attribute it to, if you're playing more, you're going to get one," Brown said. "To me, they're miracles. They're gifts from God. It's luck, no matter how many you've had."
MIDLAND VALLEY: Casey Kelly, Mike Polk, Wayne Koon and Bill Walters have had recent aces on the 172-yard eighth hole, all with different clubs. Kelly hit a 4-iron, Polk hit an 8-iron, Koon hit a 6-iron and Walters hit a 7-iron. Kelly's witnesses were Tommy Carpenter and Dale McGee. Polk's witnesses were Chip Blease, Bill Bouknight and Mike Higdon. Koon's witnesses were Donnie Turner, Chris Palmer, Mike Koon and Larry Bell. Walters' witnesses were Mike Baxley and Bruce Wilson. Yates Villitigue, the 145-yard sixth hole, 5-iron. The witnesses were Jim White, Ray McKendrick and Brooks Webster. Larry Bell, the 171-yard 13th hole, 7-iron . The witnesses were Clifford Rushton, John McGee and Matt Mixon. Jimmy Ford, the 182-yard 17th hole, 3-wood. The witnesses were Robert Ford, Keith Ford and Richard Ingram.
FIRST TEE COURSE: Chase Naples, age 10, the fourth hole, flyer wood. The witnesses were Reese Riba, Pamela Kim Naples, Garette Riba and Vincent Joseph Naples.
FOREST HILLS: Larry Rogers, the 135-yard 13th hole, 8-iron. The witnesses were Pierce Blanchard, Len Carlson and Ron Welch. Jim Eakle, the 180-yard 10th hole, 7-wood. The witnesses were Roger Vandiver, Michael Downs and Dick Ziegler. Bill Patterson, the 100-yard fourth hole, 9-iron. The witnesses were Connie Sivas, John Lembiak and Worley Person. Jack Fulghum III, the seventh hole, 4-iron. The witnesses were Kenny Hood, Chris Neal and Dickie Johnson.
POINTE SOUTH: Larry Suggs, the 163-yard 14th hole, 9-iron. The witnesses were Everett Thomas, Steve Lowe and Manley Grove. Paul Lancaster, the 167-yard sixth hole, 5-iron. The witnesses were Joe Keel, Jim Willis and Ronald Ashey. Irvin Collins, the 90-yard fourth hole, sand wedge. The witnesses were Sam Newman, Jimmy Raborn and Jim Goodman.
CEDAR CREEK: George Kowalczyk, the 89-yard fifth hole, pitching wedge. The witnesses were Wyatt Ries and Michael Ries. Charles Sikes, the fifth hole, pitching wedge.
WEST LAKE: Norman Russell, the 148-yard 17th hole, 7-wood. The witnesses were Malcolm Page and Tom Hanson. Hal Cohen, the 154-yard 17th hole, 8-iron. The witnesses were Bubba Climer and Tommy Starnes. Dan Weigle, the 177-yard 13th hole. The witnesses were Larry Prather and Lionel Prather.
AUGUSTA GOLF COURSE: Lawrence Dicks, the 10th hole, 8-iron. The witnesses were Willie Page, Robert Brown and John Prioleau.
JONES CREEK: Gary Waters, the 160-yard 12th hole, 8-iron. The witnesses were Bill Satcher, Jay Boeglen and Bruce Calendar.
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.