It was a busy work month for Lawrence Country Club assistant pro Eric Magnuson, so busy he played his home course just three times all June. His scores on No. 2 during those rounds: 1, 6, 1. That’s right, Magnuson aced the hole two of the past three times he played it. Amazing.
Some golfers just have a knack for finding the cup off the tee box. Jerry Waugh, also known as the Sheriff of Sumner County in the mid-20th century when he played basketball for Kansas University, is one such man. He has seven. He wants eight. That’s how it works.
“It’s amazing how they happen,” Waugh said. “You find a lot of really good golfers, and they haven’t had one, and you think, ‘How can that be with a guy that skilled?’ There’s a degree of luck involved.”
On the hole-in-one front, nobody was luckier than Tom Stewart, a pit bull of a left-hander for KU in the 1993 College World Series. The luck bestowed upon Stewart came not in pushing the golf ball into the hole, rather when it occurred and the identity of the witnesses. Stewart’s ace, on the 11th hole at LCC, came on Father’s Day as son Andrew and daughter Hannah watched. Think that memory might endure for all three parties?
Luck accounts for part of aces, but it’s far more than that. Intent plays a part.
“Aim for the flag,” said retiree Chuck Mead, an authority on the topic given that he recently picked up his 10th hole in one. “The heck with that going-for-the-middle-of-the-green stuff they tell you to do in Golf Digest.”
Two of Mead’s aces happened at Eagle Bend, the other eight at The Orchards.
“Your chances of getting a hole in one are a lot better here,” Mead said. “Five of the nine holes are par threes. You can play 18 holes in three hours out here. That’s 10 par threes.”
In addition to aiming for the pin, Mead offers this advice: “Visualize the shot going in before you hit it. Visualization. That is important in any sport.”
Waugh, wiry strong and freakishly flexible, also aims for the flag.
“That used to be easier to do,” Waugh said. “The aging process reaches up and bites you. You’re adjusting clubs as you get a little older.”
With each syllable uttered, another helping of sand made its way from Waugh’s mouth into his bag. He routinely beats his age and was 82 when he fired his most recent ace, last fall.
“I’m not through,” Waugh said. “I’ve got another one to do. I used to think when I had six I wanted to stop there because that was my (basketball) number in college. I used to think there was something magical about six. Then I wanted seven. Now that I have seven, I want eight. That means playing more golf. That’s what I tell my wife. I need to get out there more so I can get to eight.”
Waugh echoes Mead’s sentiments about selecting a specific target.
“Every shot has a target, whether you’re on the tee or you’re not,” Waugh said. “In his Little Red Book, Harvey Pennick says to take dead aim. Too often, most players kind of forget that. Most of us are careless about that. I suppose that’s riding and talking with people and having a good time.”
If Waugh looks back, he’ll find that Magnuson is gaining on him. Magnuson’s June 3 shot was the third ace of his career and came 25 days before the fourth, which came two days after Magnuson’s boss, Jon Zylstra, carded a 1 on No. 11 at LCC. The Magnuson family has had three aces in the past two months. Eric’s father, Jerry, holed out on No. 17 for the second hole in one of his career.
It’s been a wild summer for aces in Lawrence.