Ace of a Lifetime: Glenwood Springs man nets rarest of rare hole-in-one
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Pat Koerner will be the first to admit that his most recent hole-in-one didn’t come based of a certain skill set he had.
“Really, it was just pure dumb luck,” he said. “That’s all it really was.”
To be certain, no one believed it Koerner, a 59-year-old Glenwood Springs resident, hit his tee shot from the par-3, 93-yard seventh hole at Lakota Canyon Golf Course in New Castle on Oct. 25. Koerner was playing in a foresome in the Superintendent’s Revenge Tournament, and he didn’t even realize he’d aced the hole until a member of his group pointed it out.
The catch, however, is that Koerner, a righthanded golfer, hit the shot lefthanded. And by acing the hole lefthanded, Koerner is one of just a select few golfers who have recorded a hole-in-one both righthanded and lefthanded.
“It’s an extremely rare feat,” said Jerry Brown, the director of handicapping and course rating for the Colorado Golf Association in Denver who has worked for the CGA for more than two decades. “I’ve had a few golfers in the 20 plus years I’ve been doing this who have switched hands just to make the game more challenging to them. But none of them ever did that.”
How rare, however, is up for debate. The Lakeland (Florida) Ledger said in a March 12, 2013 article that only five people on Earth are on record to accomplish the feat. An article in the New York Times from Aug. 16, 2009, said “a bunch of golfers” have aced a hole both righty and lefty in their lifetimes. Brown verified that the CGA doesn’t keep track of such feats, but admitted to its uniqueness. An email inquiry to the Hole In One Society — as recommended by the United States Golf Association following a phone call to their office in Far Hills, N.J. — did not receive a response.
There’s no question, however, about how unique the shot was that Koerner made.
“That has to be just a one-time shot,” said Jerry Butler, the assistant golf pro at Glenwood Springs Golf Course where Koerner is a member. “I don’t even think you could duplicate it on a miniature golf course.”
The shot Koerner took was part of the charm of the best-ball scramble tournament at Lakota Canyon, which had different gimmick shots at each hole. So when Koerner and his foresome, which included Steve Latusick, Mark Kralich and Eric Palmer, showed up at the hole, there was a requirement there for all righthanded golfers to take a shot lefthanded. For the sake of convenience, there was a set of lefthanded golf clubs that was left at the tee box.
The three balls hit prior to Koerner’s shot were “nowhere to be found,” Koerner said. Koerner then took his shot and, as he put it, was just happy that it went forward. He wasn’t able to track the shot off the tee, however, which prompted the foresome to search for each of their lefthanded shots.
“I figured that since it went forward, it would at least be close to the green so we’d have something to play,” Koerner said. “But we looked around the green and it was nowhere to be found.
“That’s when my buddy Steve looked down at the pin and yelled, ‘It’s in the [expletive] hole!’”
The four started celebrating wildly, which trickled down to other groups who very quickly discovered what all of the fuss was about. When Koerner went to the tee box for the next hole, he was immediately convinced to put the ball in his pocket and keep it for fear it might get lost on the next shot.
The keepsakes didn’t stop there, either. Koerner, who typically plays golf in a pair of flip-flop sandals, was wearing a pair of golf shoes that Glenwood Springs Golf Course head pro Greg Gortsema had sold him when he took the shot.
“And I hit a lefthanded hole-in-one with those shoes on,” Koerner said. “After I hit that shot, I took the shoes off and played the rest of the tournament in my flip-flops. Then I hung the shoes up on the wall where they belong.”
Koerner’s other aces both came at Glenwood Springs Golf Course. The first came on the eighth hole of the nine-hole course during a men’s-club tournament in 2000, and the second came 10 years later on hole No. 3.
This one, however, set off a wave of excitement with everyone at the Glenwood golf course, which eventually trickled down to Koerner.
“I was in shock when I found out how special this could be,” he said. “The more you find out about this, the deeper it goes. And then you get to thinking about why someone would even be swinging lefthanded, meaning that they were usually either hurt or behind a tree or something. It’s just a fluke, or blind luck. In this case, the blind squirrel found the acorn.”
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Thanksgiving seems to be ever-present here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’m not talking turkey and gravy, I’m speaking to the gifts we receive constantly, throughout the seasons.