I remember many years ago golfing with a stranger looking for his ball all over the place. We had almost given up when he suddenly started going crazy as he pulled the ball out of the cup. That's my first experience with a hole in one and it is hard to describe how much I have wanted one ever since.
Wednesday, July 22nd, 1998 will stick in my head for sometime now as one of the exciting golf days. It was just a beautiful day. Not windy like Tuesday. Warm, but not to warm. Jack, Dan, Ron and I teed off and had no idea what that special golf day had in store.
Ron and I were playing as partners, and were getting absolutely killed on the front nine. Jack and Dan were showing absolutely no mercy. We lost by three holes, and I sighed to myself before teeing off on the 10th, ‘just another shitty golf day!'
But suddenly we came to life and actually stayed even after the first five holes. I thought to myself, maybe there is some chance.
The 15th hole at Lawrence Park Golf Course is a very interesting hole indeed. The most striking characteristic of the par three is the enormously long tee area. Once when the wind was really coming in I actually used a driver. And then other days you can get by with a nine iron. But on this day with the usual prevailing wind the hole was playing around 190 yards. A 3 or 4 iron should do the trick.
I remember when the ball was struck it seemed like slow motion. The ball flew low and a little right of the hole, but it was like it had eyes as it drew in. Jack was the first to say something as it was around half way to the hole. ‘That's a hell of a shot'. He proclaimed as everyone just watched the ball get closer and closer to the green.
I remember it bouncing one time, then start rolling. I could feel a rush of excitement as it started rolling as if someone had just putt it directly at the hole.
Keep in mind we were almost 200 yards away so no one was certain what had happened when the ball suddenly disappeared. No one that is but me. I jumped up and down and at the top of my lungs yelled ‘hole in one, hole in one'. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited, the ball had actually gone in the hole. I yelled across the woods to the people on 14. They didn't seem even the least bit interested. Then I looked over at the guys.
Jack's eyes were still glued to the green. He shook his head. ‘I don't know Charlie'. Ron just stood there in disbelief. He really had no reaction. Dan (who had actually struck the ball), was much the same way. But his first comment was that of disbelief. I don't think anyone believed me.
‘It went in the hole I tell you. It is a hole in one I guarantee you.' I yelled at the guys who were still very pessimistic.
"No, Charlie. That just went off the back of the green." Dan said, not really wanting to believe what he had just said.
Unfortunately the rest of us had to tee off before we could really find out, but I still had very few doubts that it had gone in the cup.
I made a point of getting to the green first and jumped out of the cart. I slowly made my way to the hole almost afraid to look. I sort of timidly glanced over the hole and sure enough I gave Dan the thumbs up and he smiled for the first time since hitting the ball.
I don't know how to explain my excitement over Dan's ‘ace'. Knowing myself, I would think I would have been jealous, but it was so wonderful to see a ball actually go in the hole. I only hope and pray that I have enough golf days left in me to see the ball that I actually hit go in the hole someday.
Dan paid that night at the clubhouse. You see Dan opted not to pay the buck a month for hole in one insurance. I think I cost him 20 bucks alone. I didn't feel quite so well the next morning!
Speaking of golf, the Erie Charity Golf Classic is coming up this August 2nd through the 4th. This will be my seventh or eighth year playing in it.
Our Classic is not exactly a tour event, but we have had some of the greats play in it. Among them Arnold Palmer, Lee Triveno, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Jim Dent, John Daly, Paul Azinger, Ben Crenshaw, and many other very notable names in golf which I can't exactly remember right now because my mind isn't working quite that well and I am to lazy to do some research.
Last year I played in a foursome with Glen Day who will be here again this year. Now Glen Day has been doing pretty well on the tour so far this year. I'm not certain where he is now, but at one point he was in the top ten on the money list. That's not bad. I am going to look forward to seeing him again this year.
Ted Grassi who has run the tournament for years and unfortunately passed away last year was a super guy. Either my first or second year playing in the tournament I asked Ted if it would be possible to play with Ed Dougherty who I actually knew from his visiting our store on prior visits to the Classic. Ted didn't know me very well then and I remember Ted looked at me funny and said, ‘well maybe'. For some reason I took that to be a ‘no'.
As it turned out I don't think Ted believed me. That day I followed Ed in on his round. When his round was over we were talking near the 18th green. I told him what had happened when Ted suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Ed went over and talked to him, and we've been matched up at least one day ever since.
Now if you aren't into golf, possibly you shouldn't know who Ed Dougherty is. But if you are into trains, you certainly should. Here's Ed on the cover of the Summer 1989 issue of Classic Toy Trains. If I'm not mistaken the large poster directly behind Ed was purchased at our store. Here's some of Ed's vast Lionel Post War Train Collection. I've seen his collection and can honestly say it is the nicest collection of Post War Lionel that I have ever had the pleasure of gawking at!
Ed won the Classic back in 1981. That's when I was just getting into trains and I remember seeing this pro golfer who had a sign on his bag. ‘WANTED OLD LIONEL TRAINS'.
Ironically as I am writing this, Ed is sitting tied for 2nd place in the Senior US Open.
Oh, one other picture here is our foursome from the first day at the Classic last year. Left to right: Dave Zimmerman, Glen Day, Ed Dougherty, and Me. Believe. it or not Ed and I came in 3rd in the Pro-Am part of the tournament.
So if you call the store on August 3rd or 4th there is a great chance you won't find me there. I'll be out on the links chasing aces with Ed. You'll know if I get one. You'll probably be able to hear me from where you are!