SA Mid-Amateurs celebrate a feast of aces

According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the average hacker has a 12,000 to one chance of making a hole-in-one in his career.
Most golfers can go a lifetime without an ace, yet five men defied these incredible odds at the South African Mid-Amateur Inter-Provincial at Middelburg Country Club to set a national record for the South African Golf Association in the prestigious team championship this October.
Daniel Janse Van Vuuren started the fireworks with an ace at the par-three 11th in the third round.
“I hit an eight-iron from 153 meters in my Singles game,” the North West golfer said. “To watch the ball pitch and disappear down the hole was an out-of-this-world experience. It was my first ace, and it came in very handy, because I beat Weyers van Vuuren from Western Province 4&3.
“The next day three more guys got holes-in-one and another one was recorded on the Friday. It’s pretty cool to know that I am part of a national record in South African golfing history.”
The trend continued on day four with Sunil Pillay, Michael Holden and Gerlou Roux raking in the aces.
Border’s Pillay holed out from 128 meters at the 13th.
“I was playing in the Foursomes with my brother, Udesh, against Gauteng North,” he said.
“I hit a pitching wedge and the ball pitched two meters behind the flag, spun back and dropped in the hole. All I could think was ‘Thank goodness, we don’t have to putt’. It was pretty nice to tell Jauqo and Phillip ‘you need that for a half’.
“Udesh was really thrilled, because we won the game 3&2. The next day, Marius Nel from Free State scored a hole-in-one against him in the Singles. Go figure.
“I’ve had three aces in 25 years, but this was definitely my most memorable.”
Holden described his tee shot into the par-three third as the best shot in his 30-year career.
“I struck a five-iron absolutely perfectly,” the Eastern Province golfer said. “They say to make an ace, you need some luck. I’m come close in the past, but I had to wait 30 years for the perfect shot.
“Ironically, I was thinking about the other aces in the tournament and I wondered how much it would cost me if I made one, just before I hit my tee shot. Well, it did end up costing me plenty, but I’d pay it any day to hit that shot again. Best feeling ever.”
If a hole-in-one is just good fortune, Lady Luck lives in Roux’s back pocket.
The Western Province amateur celebrated his eighth career ace when he holed a five-iron from 204 meters at the par-three 11th in the Singles.
“This was undoubtedly the most memorable one of the lot. It was unbelievable to see five guys hole out in one tournament. It is quite incredible to be part of something so unique and historical.”
Marius Nel from Free State not only completed the straight flush in the final round Singles, but ensured that every par-three at the Mpumalanga course was covered during the event.
Nel flew a perfectly-timed eight-iron from 176 meters into the green at the sixth and watched the ball hit the target and disappear down the hole.
“This was my first hole-in-one since I started playing in 2012,” Nel said. “It was really fantastic to score an ace during the Mid-Am IPT and to be part of the record, but it was even better to hole out on 1-up with three to play against Border.
“I had a lot of ‘you should have seen how bad my shot was’ stories, but now I have a really great golf story that will trump everybody else’s at my home course.”
This was also a first for South African Golf Association (SAGA) Executive Director, Bruce Younge.
“We have had two or three aces in national events before, but in all my years with SAGA, I never witnessed something so unique,” Younge said.
“The excitement of the first ace on Wednesday had hardly subsided when we got the sequential news of the next three holes-in-one on day four! This trend unbelievably continued into the final day when Marius Nel recorded his ace. One has to wonder if this record will ever be broken.”
The most aces recorded in amateur golf in South Africa was five at Benoni Lake Golf Club in 1997, however, this was in social rounds.
The hole-in-one record in professional tournament golf belongs the PGA Tour.
Eight different players recorded holes-in-one in the 2009 Canadian Open, including four in the second round on Glen Abbey’s 15th hole.
Four aces were recorded during four rounds of the 2005 Nashua Masters at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club, while the European Tour boasts six holes-in-one during the 1991 Fujitsu Mediterranean Open.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.
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