This last accomplishment of mine (that impresses
golfers mostly) is back-to-back eagles.
I was with a friend in Myrtle Beach when he did this. I can’t remember the course, but we started on the back nine, finished on No. 18, a par 5, then No. 1, which was also a par 5. We played a lot of courses in Myrtle Beach over 25 years.
This day, we were at Pleasant Valley. I’m not sure why, but they took No. 14, a par 5 a lot of us could reach in two, and brought the tee up about 50 yards and made it a respectable par 4. Then they pushed back the woods and made No. 15 a par 5, about the same yardage 14 was. This means we can reach it in two.
I was playing with three guys I knew well. They always traveled in the same car, taking turns driving. Bill and Charley were cousins. Mike was their quiet, constant companion.
So on this day, I had an eagle on 15. Hole No. 16 is a short par 4, 330 yards, but not easy because of the slanted green. I was 60 yards out. I liked the shot, but I could not see where the ball had finished. Someone said, “That ball must have gone in the hole.”
When we finally got back to the clubhouse, Charley told the pro what happened: that I had back-to-back eagles and added, “You should put that in the paper.”
The pro kind of waved it off and said, “Gail gets a lot of eagles.”
Charley started cursing at the pro. “How often do you hear about back-to-back eagles around here?”
I said, “Hey Charley, calm down. Let it go. I don’t care about that. You three know I did it. That’s enough for me.”
They made sure it got around. I heard from lots of friends about it. It never made the paper.
My wife, Emma, and I were married 65 years. Do you think I could write any kind of story without mentioning that? But after all, this is a love story! We begat two daughters (who edited and transcribed these stories). They, in turn, begat four children, who, in turn, begat 12. These are the numbers.
Two of our dearest friends — R.J. and R.J., for more than 50 years — live in Murrells Inlet, S.C. One of them is a great golfer; the other, a great cook. Both, by the way, have had aces.
When they first moved to Myrtle Beach, they bought a condo at Arrowhead Country Club, across from the No. 3 green on the Cypress Course. Now No. 3 tee is long or short, however they want it to be. You could probably get 200 yards or 120 over water all the way. Guess who scored ace No. 7 on this hole from 135? You got it!
I also want to describe this pretty hard hole for another story a couple years later.
The hole has a distinct slant, left to right from the tee. About a third of the green has some landing area at the top. The other two-thirds gives you a panoramic view of your tee shot, slowly meandering to the bottom.
This day, the flag was one-third from the bottom, pretty far back. Now I’m looking left. Miracle of miracles, the ball went where I was looking. By now, you all know that I’m the luckiest so-and-so who “sleeps with the snakes!” It just happens that my Italian friend who watched me score ace No. 6 was in the foursome behind us. So we waited for them.
Ever since R.J. lived at Arrowhead, he also worked for them, part-time. Even though we would play a half-dozen other courses, most of our golf was played at Arrowhead when we were in Myrtle Beach.
Now, as the late Paul Harvey would quip: “The rest of the story …”
RJ invites me to Arrowhead. We get the first tee time on the Cypress Course. He tells me we have two of his friends coming. I’m not sure if we ever met before. They were very good, but RJ and I could handle them.
I don’t know if people know this: They take the flags in at night to avoid pilfering. The person who replaces the flags in the morning comes up to RJ and tells him he hasn’t had a chance to put the flags out yet. RJ, who does that once in a while when he’s working, tells him we will play the holes first and place the flags when we are finished.
We play No. 1, then place the flag; play No. 2, place the flag. Now we are standing on No. 3 tee looking at the infamous par 3 I have painstakingly described. We all know we have to play left.
Surprisingly, we all hit left. When we drive up and park our carts, we can’t see a single ball. We grab something to chip with — and our putters, knowing that if we make the slightest mistake chipping, we could have a 40-foot putt to a hole we hadn’t seen yet.
We walk around to the left. We see three balls, 5 yards short of the green and 5 yards apart — all actually great shots, as it turns out. Three were 20 feet from the flagless hole and one went in the hole. It wasn’t me this time. It wasn’t RJ, but one of RJ’s friends. He bought some beers for the guys and a Pepsi for me. He will get a nice plaque from the Arrowhead folks.