Who's buying? Oakland Hills members ace same hole, on back-to-back swings
Imagine making a hole-in-one, and not even getting the honors on the next tee box.
Bill O'Connor doesn't have to imagine.
"I didn't even get a skin," O'Connor said, laughing.
During the annual member-member tournament at Bloomfield Township's Oakland Hills Country Club on Saturday, June 20, O'Connor found himself squarely in the middle of an absolutely bonkers scene at the par-3 10th hole, where he carded the fifth ace of his lifetime — only to be followed up by Mike Acheson, who, on the very next swing, stepped right up and put a second ball in the cup, for his first hole-in-one.
That's right. In one foursome, not only two aces, but on consecutive swings.
At the ritzy country club at Maple and Lahser roads, where members aren't often impressed by much, the whole grounds were buzzing, an atmosphere made even more electric by the placement of the North Course's 10th hole, which can be seen from as many as five other neighboring holes.
The first ace created a big buzz. The second? Euphoria.
"Of course, after the first one, we were jumping around and high-fiving (they wore gloves; social distancing, y'all), and now it's my turn, and all I can think is, 'Don't shank it,'" Acheson said. "And I hit and the ball goes right in the hole. This was literally like 30 seconds apart.
"Now there's a lot more noise, jumping around. People were all standing around watching after the first one.
"Now, we've got 20 people standing on the green taking pictures. It was pretty damn funny."
O'Connor, 53, of Bloomfield Hills, and his partner Chris Vozza shouldn't have been hitting first off the 145-yard, par-3 10th to begin with, but Acheson, 58, of West Bloomfield, and his partner Pete Saputo — who had just birdied the ninth hole — had made a quick pit stop at the turn snack shack. So playing ready golf, Vozza "stole" the honor and hit his tee shot, and he hit a nice one, about 10 feet from the flag.
Well, at least he thought it was a nice one.
That's until O'Connor hit his pitching wedge just short of the pin, cut close to the front of the green. The ball took one bounce and went in the hole.
Then it was Acheson, who used a 9 iron and if it wasn't for their different-colored shirts — O'Connor in white, Acheson in purple — you'd swear you were watching a live replay of the first ace. Just like O'Connor's, Acheson's ball hit just short of the flag, took a bounce and went right in. (Keeping the honor that had been rightly theirs, thank ya very much.) Their ballmarks were an inch or two apart. Head professional Steve Brady and assistant pro David Drisko saw them both, from their perch between the 10th green and fourth tee.
"It was just so crazy," O'Connor said. "The celebration was a little longer and louder for Mike's."
The odds of an amateur making a hole-in-one vary, of course, but they generally are listed at 12,500-to-1. The odds of two amateurs making a hole-in-one on the very same hole in the very same group, at least according to an article from PGA.com in 2018, are 17 million-to-1 — though legend has it, it's actually happened once before at Oakland Hills.
(And get this: It actually happened elsewhere in Michigan this month, when Bill Dubord and Paul DeGrand accomplished the feat at Escanaba Country Club in the Upper Peninsula this past weekend.)
Making the whole tale at Oakland Hills even more bananas is that, moments before O'Connor and Acheson made theirs, another member, Mike Zessin, made an ace at No. 13 on the North Course, which was being used for the tournament as the famed South Course remains closed for extensive renovations.
After that first ace at the 13th hole, Oakland Hills' staff warned the bar staff to get ready for a steady flow of customers — it's customary for someone who makes an ace to buy a round at the clubhouse afterward. Then, only moments later, the bar staff was told there had been two more aces.
"They thought they were pulling their leg," O'Connor said.
There were hundreds of competitors in the member-member, so the bar-tab tradition could've cost the ace-shooters a pretty penny, even split three ways. But before every round at Oakland Hills, members pay $6 for so-called hole-in-one insurance — just in case it's their lucky day. Good thing. Otherwise, O'Connor and Acheson could've been out thousands. Oakland Hills, if you can believe it, doesn't have dollar draft specials.
Instead, they each were out about 100 bucks.
That's a small price to pay for one heck of a story.
"I had to leave afterward, we were going out to dinner," Acheson said. "I showed up the next day, and Bill is on the practice range hitting ball after ball, and he says, 'Did you get your bill?'
"I don't think I got one."
The bill, that is. Acheson finally got his ace — and, amazingly, he had company.