ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Stacy Dennis was struggling in her first
round of stroke-play qualifying as she stepped to the tee on the par-3 ninth
hole at Biltmore Forest Country Club.
“She had just made a nine, and I told her, a one will fix
this quickly,” said Wells Greeley, her caddie and a member at Biltmore Forest,
whose college-football playing background had immediately impressed Dennis when
he was selected to carry for her.
Dennis, of Huntsville, Texas, promptly struck a 7-iron shot
on the 156-yard hole and made the first hole-in-one of her career, and the
first in the Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in 10 years. Marilyn Hardy and
Tobi Herron both made holes-in-one in the first round of stroke play at Long
Cove Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C., in 2003.
“I’ve made the mistake of being past the hole this week in
practice,” said Dennis. “I just wanted to land it somewhere in the front, and
let it kick forward and see where it went… and it went in.”
The hole features a ridge running through the green from
front to back, and Dennis’ shot found the front-right corner, crested the
ridge, and took the slope perfectly. “I couldn’t see it because of the glare,”
she said. “I thought they must be wrong. I had to go peek in the hole.”
The unforgettable shot was much-needed for Dennis. “I was
having a rough stretch. I had a 9 [on the par-5 seventh] with a whiff. I was up
against a tree and had to hit one left-handed.
And I whiffed it… so I had a whiff and a hole in one in a three-hole
stretch. I needed a couple more but I guess that’s asking for too much.”
Dennis, 40, who reached the semifinals of last year’s
championship, losing to eventual runner-up Liz Waynick in 20 holes, managed to
get in with a 10-over-par 81, in a tie for 32nd.
“I struggled a little bit, even after the one, though it
really helped,” said Dennis. “I do think, though, that my best golf is ahead of
It will be tough to top the moment of realization she had
shortly after her ace.
“I was standing on the 10th fairway after it happened and I
had a good lie in the rough and the same club in my hand, and I told Wells this
is one of the top five moments… in my life!,” said Dennis. “It’s such an
incredible place, my caddie is the coolest guy in the world and I just made a
one! I mean, how does it get better?”
As friends called from the club terrace to Dennis, warning
her that she owed them the traditional post-round beverage, she called back,
“I’m good for it… I’m on my way.” Before the championship, on her player
biography form under holes-in-one, Dennis had entered: “Never, ever, ever.”
Ron Driscoll is the
manager of the editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.