The first reaction is, "Where did the ball go?" because the shot was so long that no one could see it land. After the golfer and companions look all around the green, someone decides to check the cup. Then the reaction turns to what Andrew Matinale called, "genuine shock."
Not that many of us will ever know, but that's the way it works with a double-eagle - three under par for a hole, a feat much rarer than a hole-in-one on a par 3. Some say the odds are a million-to-one, or more. A lucky few in the past month attested that they never will forget it:
Playing as a guest of his dad, Phil, and a fellow member and guest, the 4 handicap had about 230 yards left for his second shot. He pulled out a 4-iron - part of a new Mizuno set that he never had used before that day - and hit what he knew was a good shot. "We got up to the green and we saw there was a ball about six to eight feet away. We thought that was mine until we saw the markings on it," he said.
His dad said the other day, "I've had a hole-in-one and I've seen half a dozen, but they were nothing like this."
Andrew, 25, shot 77. He now has a story to tell at Engineers Country Club, where he is assistant starter and caddie while considering going for his PGA certification.
Duane Nicholson of Elmont, 2 on No. 18 Eisenhower Blue, par 5, 444 yards
When he took up golf nine years ago, Nicholson, an MRI technician in Manhattan, had trouble breaking 100 for nine holes at Dix Hills Golf Park. But he has worked on his game. "This has been my best year," he said, adding that he has had good results with his new Callaway clubs. He cut the corner with his tee shot and had 175 yards left. He hit a perfect 7-iron and went with his buddy William Atherly to the green. He was enthusiastic about having a putt for an eagle, then disappointed at not seeing the ball. When they checked the cup, he said, "We both looked in amazement." He shot 83, and called Callaway, which is making a plaque for him.
Jeff Goldstein of Woodbury, 2 on No. 12 at The Meadows Golf Club, Princeton, N.J., par 5, 485 yards
A physician who is medical director for a Princeton-based pharmaceutical company, he occasionally plays golf after he visits the office. He just had never played The Meadows before, so he took the advice of another golfer and hit 3 wood off the tee on the left-bending hole and another 3 wood from 240 yards out. The 8 handicap did see that the shot had a nice draw that curved around trees. Soon he was putting three circles around a "2" on his scorecard, on the way to a 76. "My wife doesn't play golf," he said. "So the best way I could describe it to her was to say, 'I've never met anyone else who made a double eagle and probably never will.' "
Michael Lopez of Island Park, 1 on No. 11 at Douglaston Golf Course, par 4, 273 yards
He nearly had the thrill of a lifetime on No. 6, a par 3, when his tee shot came within 10 inches of being an ace. Lopez, who runs a Rockville Centre-based company that provides support for the credit card industry, has been playing only four years but was playing well and feeling good about his game as he reached the par-4 11th. "I'm enough of an [idiot] that I said I was going to go for it," he said. He hit a solid drive that kept going toward the green. He was only kidding when he let out a Bill Murray-like "It's in the hole!"
Lopez said it took a few minutes to make sure his playing partners hadn't put a ball in the cup as a practical joke. He had 84, he said, "The best I've ever shot."