When Jim Casagrande heard shouts and roars at the eighth hole at the Northampton Country Club, he knew something special had happened: the first hole-in-one of the season. What he didn’t know, however, was that the second hole-in-one of the season was just minutes away, at the exact same hole.
And the third.
During Saturday’s Best Ball/Alternate Shot/Scramble Tournament, members Kevin Cahill and Dede Johnson both found the cup in one stroke on the par-3 eighth. Brian Cleland, who was playing a friendly round with his son separately from the tournament, completed the trifecta shortly after.
According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, a hole-in-one is made roughly once every 3,500 rounds of golf, and for the average amateur the odds of acing a given hole are 12,000-to-1. The odds of two players from the same foursome acing the same hole are 17 million to one.
Though none of the golfers that aced at Northampton Country Club (NCC) were in the same pairing, there were still only dozens of competitors Saturday, with three acing the same hole within about a 1½-hour timespan.
“We’re all yelling and screaming, wondering if this has ever happened before,” Casagrande, the club professional, said of the first two holes-in-one. Soon after, their historic coincidence turned into an astronomical one. “All of a sudden, there’s more yelling at the same hole … and then a guy comes in saying ‘Oh my God, I got a hole-in-one on eight!’”
It’s certainly a record at NCC, and is an incredibly rare feat for golf itself: few reports of similar occurrences exist, though it has happened at courses in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Calhoun, Louisiana.
“My superintendent said ‘I’m never putting (the hole) there again,’” Casagrande laughed.
Cahill, of Leeds, was paired with Scott Daigneault, a fellow Air Force veteran and longtime friend, for the tournament. They were only able to get a few holes in before thunderstorms delayed action for about 45 minutes.
The brief pause seemed to do the trick for Cahill, though, as he sunk NCC’s first hole-in-one of the season just a few holes after returning. Daigneault opted to go with a 6-iron on the par-3, 155-yard eighth, nailing a pretty shot, presumably close to the hole. Because of the pin’s position, the pair couldn’t quite see where the ball landed.
Cahill decided to go with the longer 5-iron, with a beautiful line to follow after Daigneault’s shot.
“I just knew that it was following his shot, and that it was going to be on the green or close to it — at least that’s what I was hoping for,” Cahill said of his swing. “I drove up and saw a ball about 3 feet from the pin. Then I was looking around, and I saw the second ball in the cup.”
Cahill walked up to the cup to confirm it was his ball, and instantly had a story he couldn’t wait to tell his partner, who was driving up close behind. Though Daigneault had a great shot in his own right, they were both thrilled that Cahill sunk the hole — the first hole-in-one of his life.
“I had never seen a hole-in-one. I’d never been part of a group that’s had a hole-in-one, so it was pretty special,” Cahill said.
Patrons of the club that Saturday enjoyed a round of drinks courtesy of Cahill; unbeknownst to them, that offer would be made two more times that afternoon.
Soon after Cahill’s hole-in-one, Johnson, of Haydenville, approached the buzzing par 3. Since NCC is a 9-hole course, it was actually her second encounter with the hole that day, and her second-to-last hole of the tournament. As such, Johnson and her playing partner Michelle Morgan needed to strategize.
Johnson decided to bring her driver out. As an experienced member of NCC, she knew the 150-yard hole, and knew that often that decision meant a tee shot that blasted past the green. She decided to take the risk, and a graceful line left her club and into the air.
“I turn to Michelle, and I say ‘I think that hit the pin,’” Johnson said. “But from the tee box you can’t see the actual cup, so I didn’t know until I got up close to the hole, and there (the ball) was: sitting right in the cup.”
The hole-in-one was the second Johnson had ever hit, with the first being on the executive Blue Rock Golf Course on Cape Cod. Her efforts helped lead her and Morgan to a 77, finishing tied for third in Division 2.
“I’m not sure why I jumped the gun and started buying a round of drinks for everybody when Kevin was the first one to hit the hole-in-one,” Johnson joked.
But the afternoon’s happy hour wasn’t complete yet. Cleland, of Westfield, wasn’t in the tournament, but was playing a round of golf with his son, Ben, when he finished the hat trick. Ben recently graduated from Southwick High School, and Brian’s present is 20 rounds of golf at 20 different golf courses in 2020. NCC was fourth on the list.
Brian Cleland also isn’t a regular at NCC like Cahill and Johnson: his last visit to the course was almost 30 years ago. He didn’t judge the 155-yard hole right on the front nine, opting for a 7-iron and striking the ball to the far end of the green.
The second time around, Cleland moved down to an 8-iron, and that made all the difference.
“The pin was in the front, so it was kind of a blind shot,” Cleland said. “It seemed like it was gonna be close, but I’ve hit shots like that all the time that end up short or long … my son said ‘Dad I think that has a chance to go in,’ and then we’re driving up and he goes ‘It’s in!’. I couldn’t believe it.”
Much like the other lucky golfers of the day, it was a special occurrence for Cleland, who hadn’t hit a hole-in-one in decades.
“I had two (holes-in-one) in the same year in high school, 20-30 years ago,” Cleland said. “I hadn’t had one since.”
All of the golfers expressed their appreciation for NCC, noting that they were happy that it happened at the course. Longtime members Cahill and Johnson emphasized the hard work being done this season by Casagrande and his wife, Chrissy. All-in-all, it was a much-deserved good day for everyone involved.
“Everyone was very happy to get a free drink out of it,” Jim Casagrande said.
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