An East Bay golfer playing in blue jeans and using a bright yellow ball hit two straight miraculous shots — not seeing where either landed — to touch off a once-in-a-lifetime celebration no one truly understood.
Welcome to the quirky world of the nearly 700-yard 18th hole at Lake Chabot Golf Course, where anything goes, and goes and goes on the steep slope high atop the Oakland hills, purportedly home to the only par-6 hole west of the Mississippi.
Better known for its eccentricities — like the two-lane road that pits driver against driver for the precarious right of passage through the fairway — it may soon be renowned for something much more unique: the spot where the only condor (a minus-4 score) on a par-6 hole in United States golf history was recorded.
Confused? Imagine what went through Kevin Pon’s mind last month when the 54-year-old Castro Valley man shocked even himself. Twice. First by launching a 540-yard drive from the top of the hill that somehow bounced, rolled and finally landed at the bottom of the hill. Then by using a pitching wedge to hole in from 120 yards on a blind shot to the elevated pin.
“I still can’t believe it. I didn’t even see the ball come to rest on either of those two shots,” said Pon, who estimates he now carries a 10 handicap after giving up the sport for 10 years to focus on time with his young kids. “It’s like I’ve been telling people, ‘You know, this has been a weird year.’ ”
Bizarre enough for Pon to wonder if he got some helped from beyond. His mother-in-law, Irene Tekawa, had passed away at 83 less than two months earlier. She had shared a love of golf with him, having played 2-3 times per week herself before her death.
“Maybe she was watching out for me? Maybe she helped the ball that day?” Pon said.
Darren Lee, Pon’s friend and playing partner that day, still can’t shake the images of what he witnessed that sunny day, Dec. 10.
“It’s pretty amazing, and a pretty significant piece of golf history, especially for the Bay Area and that Oakland course. And I got to see it,” Lee said.
A marshal was among a group near the hole who saw Pon’s ball take a big bounce, a little bounce, bang off the flagstick and into the hole. The marshal, Artie Yamashita, later went around delivering a message to fellow witnesses.
“I told them, ‘You just witnessed something you’ll probably never see again in your lifetime.’ This is much more rare than a hole-in-one,” Yamashita said.
The PGA has long calculated the odds of an average golfer hitting a hole-in-one at 12,500-to-1. The odds get exponentially longer — at least 1 million-to-1 — that a regular golfer can shoot a double eagle, or an albatross.
A condor, though, is golf’s rarest of birds. So rare the PGA doesn’t even list any odds of a golfer achieving it.
In golf’s history, there were just four previous condors reported through 2018 — …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports