17 million to 1 odds: Back-to-back aces stun golfers at California course

When Rick Lehman missed the green with his tee shot on the 165-yard par-3 seventh hole at Andalusia Country Club in La Quinta, California, he didn’t think much of it other than the shot wasn’t very good.

What Lehman and his two playing partners couldn’t have known was that within seconds, the three golfers would be witness to something rare — back-to-back holes in one from the trio.

Steve Spina, a guest at the course and playing second on the hole, made a hole-in-one with a 7-iron. Chuck LaVarnway, playing last in the threesome, then holed his own tee shot with a 5-hybrid.

“The funny part was we are playing a game where one guy can win all the money if he wins by two strokes,” said LaVarnway of the double aces on Sept. 23. “So I hit my shot, and I’m thinking I have to make a 2, and it was going at the pin and I turned away, knowing that I hit it very well. But I turned away and Rick goes, ‘That went in.’ And I said, ‘oh, come on.’”

“I thought I won a few bucks on that hole until Chuck hit his ball,” Spina laughed.

The odds of an amateur golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to one. The odds of consecutive holes in one, according to the PGA of America’s website, are about 17 million to 1.

Lehman, LaVarnway and Spina play golf often at Andalusia. Lehman and LaVarnway are members of the club and Spina, a part-time La Quinta resident who lives in Burlingame near San Francisco, as a guest of his brother-in-law who is an Andalusia member. On this day the threesome was playing a game called Nine Points, meaning the winner of a hole gets five points, the second-best score gets three points and the highest score on the hole gets just one point.

Lehman’s shot didn’t offer much inspiration to his playing partners, he said, missing the green on the downhill par-3 with water in front. Spina then hit his 7-iron.

“It was in all the way,” Lehman said.

“It hit three feet in front and rolled right in,” Spina said of his fourth career ace.

Second ace same as the first

Then came LaVarnway’s turn.

“We high-fived, and Chuck was like, whatever, and he walked to the cart to get a different club,” Lehman said.

“Chuck goes, oh, I feel a little breeze, so he goes back and gets a different club (a 5-hybrid) and then he hits it, and it goes right in, the exact same line,” Spina said. “It was crazy.”

“They were almost identical shots, to be honest with you,” Lehman said. “They both went straight at the hole. I think the ball marks were a foot or so away from each other, and they both just bounced a couple of times and disappeared. It was crazy.”

For LaVarnway, it was his 10th career ace. But Spina, LaVarnway and Lehman all said they have never seen two aces from the same group before, much less on consecutive swings.

“And we are all jumping up and down like a couple of kids,” Lehman said.

“We are glad Rick was there (as witness), otherwise no one would believe us,” Spina said.

Perhaps the only downside of the two aces is that they came so early in the round.

“We walked onto the eighth tee box and, well, something like that, the excitement, it’s over,” Lehman said. “Stuff like that should last longer, the excitement. We did talk about it all day. How could that have happened?”


SOURCE: golfweek.usatoday.com