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The Trip of a Lifetime

There's no better time to hit your first career hole-in-one than during a golfing trip to Myrtle Beach with three of your friends. Just ask Bob Welton.

I started playing golf when I was 13 and have been playing for more than 50 years now. I've had several memorable shots in my career, the most memorable being consecutive eagles in a 9 hole golf league match. I drove the green on a short par-4 and made the putt then was over the green in two on the next hole, a par-5, and chipped in. I was hitting the ball really well that day and was on every green in regulation (or better). However, as I'm sure many golfers can relate, my luck didn't last very long; Following the two eagles, I three-putted every green and ended up losing the match by one point!

While I had never scored a hole-in-one myself, I had seen one...and it wasn't pretty. It reminded me that as much skill is required for a hole-in-one, there's even more luck! A guy I played with one afternoon hit a low burner on a downhill par-3 and the ball just had eyes for the hole. The ball bounced and rolled down the hill to the right of the green, hit a bank, rolled left and dropped in the cup. I was dumbfounded yet optimistic that one day that luck might find me...and it did.

I play with the same three guys a lot during the golf season and this year we decided to extend the season by making the pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach. Lefty Bill, regular Bill, Brad (Basil) and I were scheduled to play five rounds with a larger group of 86 golfers who make the trip every year and we tacked on three days beforehand to warm-up and get a feel for the courses we would be playing. Leading up to the trip I had been playing well, but was rusty since I hadn't swung a club in about three weeks...and it showed. I played horribly those three days before we joined the larger group. I had good shots but just couldn't get any consistency. The third warm-up round was the worst with a 54 on the front.

My buddies didn't know how I kept playing it was so bad. The momentum changed, however, and I managed a 39 on the back so they started calling me Jekyll and Hyde.

The first day of the competitive rounds was played at Crow Creek Golf Club in Calabash, NC. Through the first five holes, I was still battling inconsistency with a bogie, two doubles and two pars. It was a cool, overcast December day and when we reached the par-3 sixth, there was a stiff breeze in our face. The yardage said 182 but we knew it was playing longer because of the wind and the back pin placement. Because of a double bogey on the previous hole I was last to hit and hadn't learned much from my playing partners.

I decided to use my 200-yard club, a 14-degree hybrid, and was confident I had enough club. I was also confident in the NXT Tour I teed up. I started playing the ball about a year ago and it's fantastic. I put a nice, smooth swing on it and the ball had a beautiful flight towards the green. The ball hit the upslope of the green and rolled towards the back of the green. We then heard one of the sweetest sounds in the game - the distinct "clink" of the ball hitting the flagstick! I paused for a second, thinking I would see the ball behind the pin. When I realized it dropped in the hole, I went nuts, jumped in the air with a big "YEAH!!" and yelled that was in the hole. I even yelled to the group behind us that it was a hole-in-one, although I'm sure they already knew based on my reaction. My buddies congratulated me - Brad said he jumped higher than I did - but Regular Bill missed it because he was drinking a soda.

I was in shock for about three holes and then started worrying about the drinks I would be expected to buy since there were 86 guys in the group! Fortunately, we were one of the first groups back to the clubhouse so I was able to get by with buying lunch and drinks for my group. When word started to spread about the hole-in-one, sure enough, everyone came looking for their drink but most were just interested in hearing about the shot so I avoided what could have been a huge tab!

I have played numerous Titleist golf clubs over the years, including drivers and Scotty Cameron putters, and have always been pleased with the results. I've experimented with a lot of different golf balls over the years, but the NXT Tour is definitely the best.

The "shrine"

I kept the ball I used for my hole-in-one and haven't even cleaned it since it has a nice chunk of the green on it! I also have the scorecard, the pencil, the tee and some pictures of the hole that Crow Creek emailed me. I am putting together a display which my wife refers to as a "shrine". To this day, I still get excited thinking about the shot and, as a guy devoted to the game, will always treasure this memory.

Thanks for making balls that make memories!

Bob Welton

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