Alan Mullins didn’t celebrate Tuesday’s first hole-in-one at Canewood Golf Course with much more than raised eyebrows, a smile, and high-fives to the other players in his quintet.
The reaction was in line with his laid-back personality. And for Mullins, 54, it was a case of been-there, done-that.
“I had one 10 or 12 years ago at Kearney Hill (in Lexington). You know, I can’t even remember what hole it was,” Mullins said. “They gave me the flag. I still have it somewhere.”
What’s that? Oh, right. You found the operative word in the opening paragraph.
Maybe two hours after knocking his drive straight into the cup at No. 2, a 9-iron from 139 yards, Mullins pulled a 6-iron from his bag at No. 14, another par-3 of 165 yards, and repeated the feat.
Two holes-in-one. One round.
“Obviously it was exciting, but I wasn’t sure it was that big of a deal, at least not the big deal everyone else was making it out to be,” Mullins said. “Then we got done, and everybody was talking about it, and it still didn’t really sink in. But I woke up (Wednesday), and the more I think about it, it was pretty incredible.”
The odds of it happening, according to the National Hole-In-One Registry, are one in 67 million. By comparison, your odds of winning any given drawing in a Powerball lottery are approximately 300 million-to-1.
Or to put it in the context of many golfers’ worst fear, you are much more likely (9 million-to-1) to be struck by lightning twice in one lifetime.
“I’ve been told only one other person has done it,” Mullins said. “I’m not sure I believe that.”
He’s right. Larry Ried, 71, accomplished the feat last summer at Eldorado Golf Course in Mason, Michigan.
Now get this: According to a report in the Lansing State Journal, Pete Jordan delivered the same two-in-one-day magic at the same course in 2016.
The frequency of a pro golfer landing a single hole-in-one is 1 in 2,500. For an average, recreational golfer, it’s five times less likely, and Mullins, who works at Toyota, is quick to point out he’s no pro. He never picked up a club until almost age 30.
“I live right at Canewood, so I can get out pretty much as often as I want. Usually I play at least three or four times a week,” he said.
Mullins and his witnesses — Scott Sears, David Adair, Rich Williamson and Anthony Cheeks — were playing a “skins game.” It’s a popular, low-stakes format in which the players ante up until someone claims the pot by winning a hole outright. Then the process begins again.
Between winning the first skin with a birdie and then the second with his initial ace, Mullins said it took a while to compose himself. He made bogey at No. 3.
“After the second one was when I really went downhill,” Mullins said. “You start thinking, ‘Wow, that’s nuts,’ and then it’s hard to concentrate.”
On both occasions, Mullins said he was unsure where the ball landed. When a member of his group exclaimed, “That went in!” after the second one, he was convinced they were playing a joke.
Word spread quickly. The group saw the president of the home owners’ association on a cart as they moved to the tee at No. 15.
After the group relayed the tale about Mullins’ mix of skill and good fortune, the HOA spokesman promptly posted it to Canewood’s social media platforms.
“By the time we got to the finish, a lot of our friends were there, people cheering us on,” Mullins said. “It turned into a big party.”
Of course, that could have something to do with custom: Make a hole-in-one, buy a round of drinks when the round is finished.
His final score was 71. That’s “a little low for me,” said Mullins, who is a fixture in the senior club championship but says a number in the mid-70s means it was a good day on the course.
Mullins is now in the 14 percent of golfers who have made multiple holes in one, and the 9 percent who have sunk three or more.
What to do for an encore weighs on his mind.
“I’m getting ready to go play again right now, and I’m almost dreading it,” Mullins said Wednesday afternoon. “How do you follow that, you know? It might be a good time to retire.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.