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THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: An ace is an ace — no matter how it got there

| August 21, 2020 1:15 AM

You might remember a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about nearly making a hole-in-one.

In the dark…and by myself.

It would have been the agony and ecstasy of the oft-scuffling golfer — an ace with no witnesses.

Included in the column that day was a request — I wanted to hear some other folks’ stories of a hole-in-one, or some kind of remarkable near-miss.

Honorable mention in this category, by the way, goes to Bob Anderson, who watched his dad nearly kill a lot of worms with a skulled driver on a par-3 in Florida.

His father didn’t know where his line-drive shot had gone, until everyone in the group began shouting that it was in the hole.

Classic.

Here in Northwest golf heaven, it was a cinch that we’d hear from a lot of players.

The winner (if that fits) was Dan Nicklay, but I’ll let him tell you the story.

BEFORE I yield the stage, though, I want to encourage more mail about this wonderful but maddening sport.

It doesn’t have to be a hole-in-one.

Send me ANY kind of golf tale — I mean, the readers probably won’t believe half of it, but we’ll have a good time anyway.

OK, enough from me.

Dan…

You’re on, brother!

Dan Nicklay…

“I’ve never hit a hole-in-one. I’ve been within inches a few times. “But I was with a buddy once who did get one, and I think the story is worth telling — I must, as I’ve told it MANY times.

“I was out with my friend Robby when we were about 18 or 19.

“Robby had an ugly swing, but was a good striker of the ball.

“I always felt that I was a better golfer, but he always beat me head-to-head (I know, that means he was better, but still...).

“We were playing Larchmont Golf Course in Missoula, and I was KILLING him. I think I had him by about four or five strokes when we got to the 7th tee.

“I don’t remember the distance, but it’s not a long three. It has a water hazard guarding almost the whole front of the green.

“Rob bladed his shot in a way that would have put a significant smile in an old Acushnet ball — straight into the drink.

“BUT, NO!

“It skipped across the pond, rolled up and over the fringe, and nicely into the cup.

“For this once-in-a-lifetime feat, he got his name in Golf Digest, a nice commemorative plaque, and a case of Ram balls (because he had hit a Ram 7-iron from his bag full of mixed-brand clubs.) Apparently, you get the same accolades even if your ‘great’ shot was the worst you hit that day.

“The punchline?

“I fell apart, and he came on and beat me by a stroke.

“I’d do anything to have that scorecard.

“Hey, thanks for opening the wound, Steve.”

Oh, I understand the feeling, Dan.

Except…

I did just the opposite.

On the day of my hole-in-hole at the Las Vegas National Golf Club — which came at a Western Athletic Conference media event — I was playing pretty well in the company of a colleague and two reporters from Tulsa.

THEN THE miracle happened on No. 11 (although at least it was a well-struck 7-wood), and everyone was hollering at guys in adjacent groups.

For a brief moment, I was a star.

Unfortunately, I was also like Icarus flying too close to the sun.

My wings melted, and so did my golf game.

I almost hit a drive off my shoe on No. 18.

It was a blessing to get off the course, and…

No, no, I didn’t want to talk about my ace during our media social hour later that night.

All my life as an athlete, I’ve been certain I have the gift of calm.

But not on that golf course.

Not then.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the offseason.