Paul Rasmussen’s Hole In One

February 26, 2014 By: erik Category: Family, Golf, Photos 242 views

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Hole In One - Paul RasmussenSomething truly special happened during my annual February golf trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this year. Normally we have pretty good luck with the weather, but this year we had some fairly heavy rain on Saturday, February 8, 2014. We were playing one of the nicest courses we’ve ever played, over the decade we’ve been going there, TPC Myrtle Beach. Fortunately, most of us have pretty decent rain gear: water proof pants, jacket, shoes and gloves that both keep your hands warm and also somehow don’t slip on the club grip. Golfing in the rain is considerably less fun than golfing in the sunshine, but, if you have the right attitude and equipment, it still beats most activities. It rained pretty steadily for the entire front nine, and began clearing up on the back.

I was playing with my father, Paul, and our friend Dennis. Some of the less avid golfers in our group gave up after only a few holes, so our friend Jeff, who had been in a threesome behind us, joined up with us to make a foursome for the back nine. By the time we got to the seventeenth hole, most of us had taken off our outer waterproof layer of clothes.


The 17th is the signature hole on this Tom Fazio course. We were playing from the white tees, making it a 138 yard par 3, with a water carry.

Hole In One - Paul Rasmussen

Paul teed up his ball and hit his hybrid 4-iron.

Hole In One - Paul Rasmussen

The ball took off with a beautiful trajectory towards the green, headed just left of the flag. It landed on the front of the green and rolled towards the pin, following the contour of the green, which was bending it back to the right, towards the hole. As it slowed by the flag stick, the tension grew on the tee, “It’s going right for it!” someone commented, excitedly. And then, just as the ball was slowing to a stop…

…it disappeared!!

Jeff, Dennis and I let out an enormous roar, which our friends five holes away told us was heard throughout the golf course. Hugs were shared, before we got in the carts and drove up to the green.

Hole In One - Paul Rasmussen

The most beautiful image to a golfer is a ball in the hole with the pin still in, because it means that you hit it in from off the green. You should always take the ball out with your hand before removing the pin, because the rules of golf state that if you pull out the pin and the removal of the pin pops the ball out of the hole, the ball doesn’t count as being in the hole.

Hole In One - Paul Rasmussen

Jeff proudly holds the pin steady while Paul removes his yellow ball.

Hole In One - Paul Rasmussen

Yep, that’s it!

Watching a hole-in-one is a very special experience, because they are so incredibly rare. It’s even more special when you can see the ball disappear; many times you don’t have a clear view of the hole to see it fall in. One of the myriad things I love about the game is that, unlike in many other sports, every once in a while an amateur can perform a feat that is better than the most hardened tour pro. Tiger Woods could hit that 138-yard shot a hundred times and never knock the ball in the hole…

But my dad did.

  • JoshAGrady

    Living where you do, I should hope that you would have decent rain gear.

    Please don’t take any of what I’m about to say as trolling. Apart from some limited Wii experience, I know nothing about golf, and present the questions which your post has raised with an open mind and desire to learn.

    How much of your appreciation of golf is based on an understanding of the physics involved in the game? Is this “par for the course” (see what I did there?) or are most players unaware of the incredibly weird mechanics of boinking a geodesic sphere through the air, against an irregular surface, and into a hole in the ground?

    How is playing on wet grass different from playing on dry grass?
    Are atmospheric conditions (apart from the obvious biblical deluge scenario) a game changer? (i.e. Could a very competent player who has only ever played in, say, Arizona, see his game improved or worsened by playing in, for example, Scotland or Laredo?)

    Is there any real skill involved involved in ¿hitting? a hole in one, or is it just a “thousand monkeys” sort of thing?

    Congratulations to your father and to the lucky witnesses.

    • Excellent questions.

      Almost none of my appreciation of golf is based on a knowledge of physics. The only bit of physics one needs to know to be a golfer (apart from gravity) is the slightly counter-intuitive fact that if your club is traveling from left to right when it hits the ball, it will impart a spin that will make the ball curve left, and vice versa…an ditto for the other axis (e.g. hitting down on the ball makes it fly higher). I suppose you could call “reading greens” a physics based skill, but any two year old knows that a ball rolls downhill.

      The biggest difference that moisture makes is that the ball bounces and rolls less on wet ground, particularly if it’s rained enough to make the ground soft. Sometimes a ball won’t roll at all, but will just plug into its own little crater.

      Much more than precipitation or humidity, what changes as you golf in different places is the air pressure. A golfer can hit the same club a lot further in Denver than in Los Angeles. Knowing how far each of your clubs goes when struck with a full swing is pretty important.

      Yes, hitting (yes, that’s the right verb) a hole-in-one is a bit like winning the lottery, but the better a golfer you are, the more lottery tickets you have. A good player is more likely to hit the ball onto the green, a better player is more likely to hit the ball close to the hole on the green, and then you just need some dumb luck.

      A lot of the enjoyment of golf is like that of fishing or hunting or hiking: spending time outdoors (albeit in a carefully curated version of Nature) with friends. And the other aspect is the personal challenge to do something that is really hard as well as you can. Anyone who has thrown a dart at a dartboard can understand the sensation of triumph and beauty when a throw is on target, and the addictive, “Ugh! I can do better next time!” reaction to a near miss. Golf is a lot like that.

  • Paul Rasmussen

    Thanks Erik. It was fun because of the friends who were with me.

    Let the record show, however, that the pin was 12 yards back, making it a 150 yard shot. That was a 7 iron when I was your age, is a 6 iron here in the foothills, a 5 iron at sea level, and a 4 iron on a soggy day at the TPC course in Myrtle Beach that I will never forget.