PANNAL member John Bywater had gone 40 years playing the game without experiencing the thrill of holing in one – and then knew plenty about it after two aces in the space of just eight holes in a social round at the club. The 18-handicapper defied odds of an estimated 67 million to one to pull off the feat.
And bookies might have offered him even more when he admitted: “I wasn’t actually playing that well.”
The holes that fell under Bywater’s mesmerising spell were Pannal’s 152-yard third and the eighth, at a length of 142 yards.
“I hit quite a good tee shot at the third, but not great,” he said. “Then it’s rolled off the bank and the next thing I know my mate is jumping up and down and saying, ‘the bloody thing has gone in the hole’.
“The fourball in front, who were walking towards us, were clapping and cheering. I couldn’t quite see it so I thought, ‘well that is quite remarkable, I have got a hole-in-one.
“We moved on and I still wasn’t playing that well and we got to the 10th. There I did hit a good tee shot, but again – with my eyesight – I couldn’t see it and my mate said, ‘you b**ger, it’s gone in’ – and the fourball in front again turned round and started clapping and cheering.”
His playing partner Jonathan Crawford raced ahead of Bywater at the end of the round to spread the news. Bywater was subsequently greeted with applause and congratulatory handshakes – and had his arm twisted to provide not just the traditional one bottle of whisky, buy two.
“There was a ladies lunch going on for some competition and they all started to applaud and everyone was shaking my hand,” he said. “I am an 18 handicapper, but if I was a really good golfer I would be thinking, ‘it’s about time I got two holes in one’, but I have been 18 handicap for about 20 years and haven’t got any better, so for me to get two holes in one it’s luck, isn’t it?”
So what memorable golfing feats had Bywater achieved during four decades of golf?
“I was playing up at Royal Troon with a couple of Scottish mates and on the 18th I actually put a ball through the clubhouse window, never mind putting it in the hole,” he laughed. “That was a good shot. When I hit it I thought it would be right on the green, but it was too hard.
“My friend, who is a member there, said, ‘you need to go and get changed, put your tie and jacket on, knock on the secretary’s door and bow down and make a humble apology. That’s what I did and it was absolutely fine.
“The secretary said it had happened quite a few times before because the clubhouse is so close to the 18th green.
“There is a photograph of me somewhere standing outside the clubhouse holding a golf ball with a big smile on my face.”
Returning to his memorable round with two aces, he added: “It’s a 67 million to one chance apparently. An accountant who I golf with occasionally told me. I should have bought a lottery ticket instead.
“I’m just amazed. It cost me two bottles of whisky, but if I won the lottery I might have been £25m better off, but there we go.”