Scot places hole-in-one monopoly under loch and key

Allan Muir with his three hole-in-one balls at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club, where he has hit two of his three aces since June 4.
Allan Muir with his three hole-in-one balls at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club, where he has hit two of his three aces since June 4.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It takes only a single swing to achieve the most unlikely of outcomes in golf, a hole in one. Yet the wait for one is both cruel and rewarding in equal measure.

After 40 years of playing the game, Allan Muir had never managed one. Then last month at his home base of Laguna National Golf and Country Club, he did. A day later he got another. His third ace - in the span of six weeks - arrived last Saturday.

"It went from amazing, to ridiculous to just plain silly," laughed the Scot as he attempted to describe his incredible feat; the probability of an amateur golfer hitting a hole in one is an estimated 12,000 to one.

For someone to make three in such a short span beggars belief, said Australian professional Scott Barr, one of Muir's flightmates for the first hole in one on June 4.

Muir, a 10-handicapper, has come close in the past, none more tantalising than at a charity event at Sentosa Golf Club six years ago when a Mercedes - an attractive prize but nothing compared to the trip to outer space that English pro Andy Sullivan won last year at a European Tour event - was up for grabs. Muir's ball landed a foot short of the hole, bounced and hit the flag and spun around the cup and stopped an inch away.

  • HERE'S HOW MUIR DID IT

  • June 4
    • Laguna's World Classic
    • Par-three 11th hole, 178m
    • Rescue club
    • Titleist Pro V1x No. 1

  • June 5
    • Keppel Club
    • Par-three 12th hole, 163m
    • Five-iron
    • Titleist Pro V1x No. 1

  • July 18
    • Laguna's World Classic
    • Par-three 17th hole, 120m
    • Nine-iron
    • Titleist Pro V1x No. 4

It was just not his time to make one, said Muir. At 50, there is possibly no better age to start though. According to the United States-based National Hole-In-One Registry, 60 per cent of hole-in-one golfers are 50 or older.

And yet the hardest shot in golf doesn't sound all that difficult, especially when you consider that Golf Digest estimates there are 150,000 aces recorded annually. Texan club pro Mancil Davis holds the world record with 51, having made at least one a year from 1967 to 1987.

Age is no barrier, it seems. Two centurions - a 102-year-old woman and a 101-year-old man, both Americans - have struck aces. Tiger Woods was six when he had his first. Neither is disability. A legally blind 92-year-old man from Florida has also done it.

In 2009, Unni Haskell from Tampa in the US played the first hole of her life after two months of lessons and watched her ball take a bounce and roll straight into the cup.

At least Haskell got to enjoy the sight of her magical shot. Muir's first ace was on the par-three 11th at Laguna's World Classic course. At 178m, he was too far away to see the ball.

"For a split second it crossed my mind that it might have gone in, but I dismissed it immediately," said Muir, before the shouts of delight from his flightmates told him otherwise.

The financial adviser had a full view of his handiwork the next day, when competing in a tournament at Keppel Club.

His Titleist Pro V1x - the ball brand that accounts for almost half of all aces - took a couple of bounces before rolling four feet and disappearing into the cup.

"It's hard to come down to earth after you make a hole in one," said Muir. "There's so much adrenaline pumping, which isn't so good for golf. My game was crap after that. But that's fine. It was worth it."

While one cannot put a price on such an experience - golf insurers do, though, and usually pay out $500 or more for a hole in one - the three aces by the Singapore permanent resident have not come cheap.

Tradition dictates that anyone who hits an ace buys everyone at the clubhouse a round of drinks. Muir has spent close to $6,000 so far, toasting his accomplishments.

"This has almost bankrupted me," chuckled the father of two.

One thing is for certain. He will no longer be the butt of jokes at family gatherings. His son and sister-in-law, less serious golfers than him, have both struck aces and Muir has endured plenty of ribbing about his barren run. Until now.

"It's crazy to expect a hole in one but anything is possible now," he said. "Every time I step onto a par-three, you can't help but believe you could make another."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Scot places hole-in-one monopoly under loch and key'. Print Edition | Subscribe