BOB WEST — Orange golfer adds to amazing run of area aces

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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Aces were wild last week at Babe Zaharias, a happening that once again underscores the random nature of a feat, which carries 12,500-to-1 odds against for an amateur and 2,500-to-1 for a PGA Tour player.

Tracking the weirdness of when and where aces transpire has always been fascinating to me, so we’re going down that road again in today’s column. We’ll start with this rather intriguing fact.

In the calendar year 2022, there were only eight holes-in-one reported at Zaharias. Half of those were authored by Wadsworth Thompson of Groves and Johnny Page of Vidor.

Meanwhile, three tee shots nestled into the cup within a 24-hour period last week. That raised the 2023 total to seven. There had been two in January, one in February and one in March.

So, could this be shaping up as a vintage year for aces or was last week just an aberration? Time will tell, as it always does. My regret is I have not been vigilant enough on holes in one to know the single-year record at The Babe.

Harrell Guidry, 76, of Groves got last week’s run started on Tuesday with what would be his third ace. It came from 125 yards with a 6 hybrid on No. 2. Witnesses were Craig Geoffroy, Jeff Rinehart and Lonnie Mosley. The latter two, by the way, have scored aces within the last year.

A day after Guidry’s 1, Charles Leard of Orange put that number on his scorecard from 105 yards on No. 15. Leard used a 9-iron for his second ace. His foursome, which used the points generated by the ace to win the Zaharias DogFight, included Gary Whitfill, Aubrey Ward and Dillard Darbonne.

Later that same day, Joe Bennett of Port Neches authored a hole-in-one from 125 yards on No. 7 with a 6-iron. It was Bennett’s third ace. Witnesses were Mark Lee, John Parent and Bryan Boudreaux.

Previous 2023 aces at Zaharias have been bagged by Joey Flanagan, Rinehart, Rick Pritchett and Boe Low.

Who’s next?

Since we’re already deep into holes in one, I might as well mention some of the more compelling aces that have recently caught my attention. All of them, incidentally, occurred within the last 10 days.

Remember the name of Georgia schoolboy star Will Baker. Playing in a sectional tournament for Prince Avenue Christian School, Baker’s drive flew a fronting pond some 300 yards away, then he watched the ball trickle into a cup 323 yards distant.

Since Baker’s first-ever ace came on a par 4, it was an albatross, not an eagle. For perspective, a hole in one on a par 4 has happened only once in PGA Tour history. Andrew Magee did it on the 17th in the 2001 Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Oh, by the way, Clemson-bound Baker shot 61.

Back-to-back aces on the same hole have happened before but since what transpired last Thursday on the 15th hole at Glades Golf and Country Club in Naples, Fla,. is a 17 million to 1 rarity, John Nicholson and George Rand must be mentioned.

Nicholson, 73, hitting third in a foursome on the 125-yard hole, knew his shot was online but nobody in the group saw it go in. A playing partner scanned the green with his range finder, didn’t see a ball and told Nicholson it must have been a hole in one.

Rand, 71, looked at his long-time friend and said he was going to put his ball right on top of Nicholson’s. One smooth swing later, Rand proved to be a man of his word and matched his buddy’s ace.

Then there was the feel-good story of the week in which an ace might not have even been the highlight.

Connecticut native Mike Sweeney, whose financial situation is so tight he lives out of his car so rent money can go toward golf expenses, Monday qualified into last week’s Korn Ferry Tour event. He did so by holing a bunker shot on 18 for an eagle to get into a playoff, which he won.

Sweeney had fireworks left. During the first round, delayed until Friday by rain, he started on the 10th hole with a birdie. He was still 1-under upon arriving at the 230-yard, par 3, 13th. His tee shot, with a 3-iron, found the cup. He was 3-under and leading.

Sadly, there was no happy ending. Sweeney shot rounds of 69-73 and failed to make the cut.

CHIP SHOTS: No good news for Lamar exes Chris Stroud or MJ Daffue in the Mexico Open. Stroud missed the cut by 4 shots on rounds of 75-71 while Daffue was two off after posting 77-67. It was the latter’s first MC in his last eight starts.

Andrew Landry, who didn’t play last week, and Daffue are in the field for this week’s Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina . . .

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of James Vercher, Raymond Darbonne, Art Turner and Randy Trahan tied the front at minus 2 and won the back with minus 3. Also minus 2 on the front was the foursome of Tommy Bellow, Rinehart, Dan Flood and Larry Johnson.

Closest to the pin winners were Turner (No. 2, 7-7), James Johnson (No. 7, 7-1), Keith Marshall (No. 12, 7-10) and James Cady (No. 15, 5-5) . . .

Last Wednesday’s Zaharias DogFight, as noted earlier in the hole-in-one roundup, was won by the team of Whitfill, Ward, Leard and Dillard Darbonne. They had 27 points. Second with 26 was the foursome of Vercher, Rusty Hicks, Rufus Reyes and Turner.

Closest to the pin winners were Bellow (No. 2, 2-1), Robert Stansbury (No. 7, 5-6), Dwayne Benoit (No. 12 13-10) and Leard (No. 15, ACE).

Golf news should be e-mailed to Bob West at