The odds of accomplishing what Bob Ball did this week at the Links Course at Wild Dunes Resort are … well, there aren't any odds. It's too far-fetched.
Two things every golfer dreams of -- a hole in one and a double eagle -- and Ball made both in the same round!
The golfing gods were certainly smiling on the part-time Isle of Palms resident during a practice round for the 2012 EZ-GO Pro-Am. To start his round, Ball hit a 4-rescue club on his second shot from 192 yards on the 470-yard, par-5 first hole for his first-ever double eagle. Later, on the 129-yard, par-3 16th, Ball's shot with a pitching wedge landed just behind the hole and spun back in for his fifth career hole in one.
"There's a funny element to what happened Monday," said Ball, 58, who splits his time between Isle of Palms and Atlanta. "We had a 12:44 tee time and I was running a little bit late. The other three fellows were on the tee. I pulled (into the parking lot) and hopped out of my Jeep. My back pocket caught on something on the door and it ripped and I fell flat on my face."
Ball rushed to the tee, grabbed his driver and hit his tee shot. A few minutes later, he addressed the ball and hit his second shot.
"Our pro (Jimmy Hamilton of Raleigh) was looking through his yardage finder and said 'It's in the hole!' I couldn't really see it. (Player partners T.J. Van Thullner and Matt Burt) were giving high fives, but I was still more worried about my pants and what I was going to do when the cart girl came by."
Ball said after parking his cart near the green, out of habit he pulled out his putter and headed over when one of his player partners reminded him he would not need the club. He said he felt back to normal after a bogey on the next hole and continued to feel that way until the group got to No. 16. This time the shot was close enough he and his partners all could see it fall in.
"It was almost like when the Green Bay Packers score a touchdown and jump into the crowd. One of my partners came up behind me and picked me up and wouldn't let me go. Jimmy said, 'I don't know if you understand. It couldn't be that this has happened very often in the same round,' " Ball recalled.
One source, The Double Eagle Club (doubleeagleclub.org), says the hole in one-double eagle combo has been done only four times previously. But it also offers the qualifier "I am sure there are more; I just don't know them … yet!"
As a former basketball player at UNC Charlotte, Ball, who has been in the insurance business for all but two years since finishing college, certainly appreciates the first name on the list of those who have made a double eagle and a hole in one -- legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden who did it in 1939. Another golfer on The Double Eagle Club's list is pro golfer Nicholas Thompson, who did it in October 2009 in the third round of the Frys.com Open.
Ball, a member at Yeamans Hall Club where he carries a 7-handicap, said his last hole in one occurred 21 years ago and he thought that might be his last one. He said he only plays about 20 rounds a year.
"Both of the shots, it's funny. It's almost like you don't have any recollection of swinging. They just felt pure. It seemed like everything went into slow motion," Ball said.
But the question everyone asks when someone makes a hole in one, when someone makes a double eagle or when someone makes both in the same round is: What was your score?
"My handicap, no one can ever argue about it because I shot a 75. And I also birdied 18," Ball said. "If I make pars on those two holes, I shoot my normal 80. I joked to my wife that I have to make a double eagle and a hole in one just to break 80.
"At the end of the day, it's one of those things that just happened. I know all my good golf is in the rearview mirror. Why things happen, it's hard to say. But it sure did feel good."