Joe Mannarino tells his unlikely story.
by: Joe Mannarino
On July 28, I was playing a round of golf at Daytona Beach Golf Club, North Course in a foursome with friends John Macaluso, Glenn Smith, and Chuck Collins. Playing from the white tees, I started the round with birdie, par bogie, on the fourth hole made an easy 2 putt par. Due to the fact that my drives on the first and fourth holes were long and straight, I approached the par 4 fifth hole feeling cautiously optimistic that today my driver could carry over the water on my tee shot and land somewhere on or near the green. The safer shot would have been to hit an iron out to the fairway and then hitting my second shot over the pond to the green. I have attempted to hit my driver over the water directly at the green a number of times in the past and many of those attempts unfortunately either sliced into the pond that protects the green or landed in the bunker to the left of the green.
As I looked out from the teeing area, it would necessary to hit my driver over a few tall trees that are positioned in front of the pond and keep the ball on a straight line to the green. Otherwise, the ball would either slice into the water or hook into other trees to the left of the green. Before setting myself into position to make my swing, I was trying to stay calm by being aware of my breathing and to not let negative thoughts dominate my mind.
I teed a ball that I pulled out of my bag, a TaylorMade TP5x, slightly higher than usual to get early loft to carry the trees with my M1 TaylorMade driver. I aligned the logo on the ball to the flagstick and positioned my feet with the ball toward the heel of my left foot. My dominant thought just before making my swing was to turn my body with even tempo and to follow through to the target. I did not rush my swing and turned my shoulders and hips without stress. I did not rush my downswing and made solid contact with the ball. My head followed the ball, which easily carried the tops of the trees and flew straight as an arrow passing over the water and the sand trap protecting the green. I could then see the ball bounce onto the green, but not where it finished.
I was ecstatic that the shot had successfully achieved my objective of hitting the green in one shot. My playing partners were very congratulatory as we high-fived each other. Once each of my playing partners hit their next shots across the water to the green, we all drove up to play our next shots. As we drove up, I was looking for my ball and was disappointed not see it anywhere on the green. I got out of the cart and walked around the ruff area and far sand trap and still couldn’t locate my ball. My partners were also hunting for my ball as we were all curious as to where it was.
My next thought was, "Maybe the ball did not clear the protecting bunker as it first appeared." As I walked on the green toward the bunker, I passed the flagstick and looked down. I was frozen for a few seconds as I gazed at the ball at the bottom of the cup, then I raised my arms and yelled, “It’s in the hole.” As my playing partners rushed to witness the ball in the hole, we began celebrating on the green and took pictures of me smiling as I pulled the ball from the hole.
My friend John called the Club House to report what had just happened on the fifth hole and I began texting the photo to friends and family. Before playing the next hole, I place the albatross ball into my golf bag pocket for safe keeping and to be mounted in a case with 5 other hole-in-one balls dating back to my first in 1989. But this hole in one is different from my other five as it is a 1 on a par 4, not a one on a par 3.
After finishing my special round of golf, we stopped at the club house where I was provided with a hole in one certificate and a well done by the golf course staff. My friends and I celebrated at the golf course restaurant where I found myself buying lunch and beverages for the group.
After some research, according to Golf World writer Bill Fields, the odds of an albatross are estimated 6 million to one. Apparently, the odds of being struck by lightning are 555,000 to one. I find myself in the grand company of golf legends like Tom Morris Jr, who apparently recorded the first albatross on September 15, 1870.
It was most certainly a memorable golf day, and to quote Bill Murray who appropriately said in Caddy Shack: “It’s a Cinderella story.”