A Special Hole-in-One, A Memorable TripIn First Round Since Suffering a Heart Attack, John Casas Records His First Hole-in-One
In September of 2007 John Casas suffered a heart attack. It was a frightening ordeal but, fortunately for John, it was one that he would be able to recover from with rest and rehabilitation. He was understandably cautious during his recuperation and did not play golf for over five months. However, in January 2008 he did accept an invitation to play in a scramble tournament at Coyote Hills Golf Course in Fullerton, CA. The one lingering after-effect that John experienced after the attack was an acute feeling of fatigue. So he agreed to participate in the tournament, with the understanding that he would play until he became tired.
John Casas with his Hole-in-One Pro V1
Things were going well on tournament day, but after thirteen holes, John announced that he was going to call it quits. His playing partners convinced him to play one more hole, a 188 yard par 3. John agreed and using a 3-utility wood, struck his Pro V1 golf ball right in the hole. It was John's first hole-in-one, ending a 40-year pursuit. To make the achievement even sweeter, the hole-in-one earned John a tee prize from the tournament sponsor - a trip for two to the United Kingdom to attend the British Open.
Soon after the scramble, John notified Titleist to register his hole-in-one. Titleist sent him a pewter bag tag to commemorate the event, but because of the unique nature of his accomplishment, leadership at Titleist decided to get involved. Neil Jessiman, European Marketing Manager for Titleist, contacted Mr. Casas and invited him to visit the Titleist Tour Van on-site at Royal Birkdale.
John contacted us after his trip and shared some highlights:
My wife Ann and I drove from Edinburgh to St. Andrews on Sunday, July 13th. Driving can be tricky, with obscure road signs and confusing round-abouts, but we managed, albeit after a few missed turns. Driving on the left side of the road wasn't as difficult as I expected though, thanks to some advice we received from a local cab driver. He said, "Yank, keep your passenger as near the curb as you can." I kept Ann near the curb and it worked. We didn't crash.
We checked into our hotel and received a call from Ken Graham, Titleist's Director of UK Sales. Ken came to the hotel and greeted us. He and Neil Jessiman had looked into securing a tee time for me at The Old Course, which was unfortunately an impossibility. However, there is a daily lottery system in place called "the ballot" for groups without tee-times and a daily wait-list for single players that can usually accommodate most walk-on's. So Ken advised getting to the course early the next day to try my luck as a single. He was very kind and gave me a dozen Pro V1's for the following day's round. Before leaving, Ken informed us that on Sundays St. Andrews becomes a public park. No golf is played. Ann and I took Ken's suggestion and walked the course after dinner. We followed the famous fairways and stood together on the Swilken Burn Bridge. A perfect end to our first day in Saint Andrews.
John and Ann Casas at St. Andrews
One thing you may not realize about Scotland (I certainly hadn't given it much thought) is how far north the country is situated. Edinburgh lies on the same latitude as Copenhagen, Denmark. Aberdeen is just south of cities like Oslo and Stockholm. So in the summer, the days are uncommonly long. During our stay the sun rose at 4:15 A.M. and set at 10:30 P.M. Perfect for golfers!
The next day, Monday, I arrived at the Old Course at 5:20 A.M. I put my name on the list and was happy to see that I was fifth in line. At 8:00 A.M. my name was called. I was paired up and supplied a caddie, who was indispensible. He engineered me around every hole. I landed in just one bunker and only lost two balls (in the rough). The round still ended all too soon, but on a positive note - I parred the 18th.
On Thursday my wife Ann and I attended the first round of the Open. We met Jonathan Loosemore, Titleist's Manager of Leadership Promotion at the range at Royal Birkdale at 10:30. He was extremely welcoming. Jonathan gave us a brief tour inside the ropes and then escorted us (thankfully) into the Titleist Tour Truck. I say thankfully because the weather was truly fitting for a British Open; a mix of mud, thunder and wind. We were ill-prepared for the bone-chilling weather, even with our rain gear, but Jonathan and the Tour staff took pity on us. They gave Ann a fleece Titleist hat and me a huge Titleist umbrella. We spent the afternoon camped out near the scoreboard behind the 9th green, where we could see action on several adjacent holes as well. We saw some great golf at Royal Birkdale (and endured some rough weather) but we got a true taste of what golf is really like in its homeland. Anne and I would like to thank Titleist and in particular Neil Jessiman, Jonathan Loosemore and Ken Graham for their generosity and hospitality. They went out of their way to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip even more memorable.
According to John, he has been a faithful Titleist loyalist since he took his first golf lesson. His PGA professional shared with him the notion that he could enjoy a competitive edge by addressing a Titleist golf ball. This edge derives from the confidence you experience when you know that you are playing the best ball in the game. It has worked for John ever since.
Congratulations, John, from all your friends at Titleist. Thank you for supporting the #1 ball in golf. We wish you continued good health and hope your hole-in-one is just the first of many more to come!
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