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I started hearing rumors about a gal at Ocean Ridge who had three holes-in-one in the past year, then I heard she had another, and then another…
Naaah! Five holes-in-one in a year? Impossible, I thought. Someone was pulling my leg.
But the rumors persisted and a couple of people sent me e-mails, someone else called me about it.
I decided to track it down and folks, it’s as true as the sun shining outside my office window this morning.
Linda Van Horn had five holes in one from Oct. 12, 2007, to Oct. 13, 2008—that’s a year and one day. An amazing feat!
I met Linda at the big clubhouse at Ocean Ridge last week and she was all smiles. She should be, because this has got to be the ultimate experience for any golfer.
The probability of a male golf professional getting a hole in one is 3,709-to-1. The probability an average golfer will make an ace on any given hole is 12,000-to-1. The probability of one better-than-average (handicap 14) female amateur golfer getting five holes-in-one in a year and a day is monumentally staggering. Not being a math genius, I cannot work it out, but it must be in the quadrillions, like number of stars in all the galaxies or grains of sand in all the beaches on this planet.
Here’s the story.
Linda Van Horn grew up in New Jersey and met her husband, Craig, at Kean College there.
“He was a golfer and I started to play after we got married,” she said, “but because we were such busy people, I played maybe twice a year.”
The Van Horns moved to Texas.
“I still didn’t have a lot of time for golf. Our daughter Meredith was an outstanding athlete, so a lot of my time was spent driving her to sporting events. She went on to play volleyball for Oklahoma and was honored to win the Big 12 Medal of Honor.”
In 1999, the Van Horns started building a house in Ocean Ridge and at that point, Linda took up golf seriously. Today the Van Horns are active in the community, playing in the men’s and women’s golf league and in couples’ events on a weekly basis.
Linda’s hole-in-on run started on Oct. 12, 2007, when she scored an ace on the second hole at Panther’s Run, a 103-yard par 3.
“We usually play with another couple each Friday afternoon,” she said. “Afterwards we have dinner at each other’s home or go out to a restaurant. That day, the others couldn’t make it, so it was just Bob, my friend’s husband and me. We all went out to dinner afterwards and celebrated.”
The next hole-in-on came on Nov. 30 last year, when Linda hit a pitching wedge into the cup on hole No. 11 at Lion’s Paw.
“It was our usually Friday night couples thing,” she said. “Everyone was there and it was getting late. The ball went up and disappeared on the green. Did it go in? We found it in the cup and were amazed. This time the four of us went out for pizza to celebrate.”
This year, in July, Linda had two holes-in-one, just 17 days apart. She aced the third hole at Lion’s Paw with a 9-iron on July 9. The distance was 108 yards. Then on July 26, she dropped one into the cup on No. 17 at Tiger’s Eye from 125 yards away using a 9-wood.
“It was really bizarre now,” Linda said. “The first hole-in-one was OK, people do that and it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world. The second one seemed like just a stroke of luck. My husband had a chance to see that one. But when the next two happened, everyone was paying attention and it almost seemed like, ‘OK, there’s another one. I can do this thing.’ I wasn’t really nervous when I stood up on a par 3. I just went for the pin each time and said to myself, ‘If you did it once, you can do it again.’ It was a strange, relaxed kind of feeling.”
The third hole-in-one came during a regular ladies league day at Ocean Ridge.
“The ranger called it in when he saw it,” Linda said, “and guys came pouring into the clubhouse for free drinks. We have a $150 hole-in-one fund and that helped, but didn’t cover it all, but I was still delighted that I had my third ace.
“When the next one came two weeks later, we were playing in a couples’ tournament on a Saturday. When the news got out, people came out of the woodwork to celebrate. It was a real happening.”
When a few months glided by with out an ace, Linda thought the run was over. But then on Oct. 13 in the second round of the Ocean Ridge member-member tournament, Linda got her fifth hole-in-one, on the 11th hole at Panther’s Run. She hit a 6-iron into the cup from 115 yards out.
It was exactly one year and one day since the start of her incredible run of aces at Ocean Ridge.
Linda plays at other courses in various leagues, but all of her aces happened at Ocean Ridge. Two were at Panther’s Run, two were at Lion’s Paw and one was at Tiger’s Eye. None of them were on the same hole.
She usually plays with a Titleist Pro VI and used them on all her aces except for the third one at Tigers Eye No. 3.
In talking with Linda about her amazing string of holes-in-one, this lefty golfer admitted she loves her irons and has great confidence in that full shot from 100 yards in.
“Part of it is confidence when playing a par 3,” she said. “I always go for the flag, not the safe shot to the open part of the green. If the flag is tucked behind a bunker, I still go for it. I got this strange mindset after my first hole-in-one. I kept thinking that I could get another, then another.”
Linda never had a hole-in-one before this string of aces, but she did have an eagle on hole No. 14 at Lion’s Paw in February 2007. It’s a long par 4 with water on the left.
This year she was runner-up in the Ladies Club Championship. Watch out ladies, here she comes!
In her spare time, Linda enjoys cooking ethnic foods. Her best recipe, she tells me, is Short Ribs Tagliatoni from the “Everyday Italian Cookbook.” She also likes to create upscale Mexican dishes.
Is there a connection between ethnic food and holes-in-one? If so, I’m going online today and ordering a bunch of cookbooks. As a matter of fact, I was in Puerto Rico once and came home with “Puerto Rican Cookery.” I think I’ll make Pescado a la Jardinera tonight with Dulce de Coco Dorado for desert.
Maybe it will help.
GOLF GAB GROANER
The golfer sliced his ball deep into the woods and his caddie followed him into the underbrush to look for the ball.
After several minutes of searching, the ball was discovered lying under the thick branches of a pine tree.
“Do you know what kind of shot I’ll need here?” asked the golfer.
“Yessir,” answered the caddy and pulled out a hip flask from his back pocket.
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.