There’s an adage in golf: “I’d rather be lucky than good.”
Its counterpart is: “The better you are, the luckier you are.”
Phil Wakefield is both lucky and good.
The East Meadow resident recorded his fourth hole-in-one on Saturday, jarring his tee shot on the 15th at Bethpage Green.
But get this: On March 5, he bowled a 300 game at Levittown Lanes, the second of his career.
The 67-year-old Wakefield figures he’s about a 10-handicap these days, up from 6 during the time he was practicing more. Before bowling was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was carrying a 203 average at Levittown. So his skill level has helped him beat the odds of rare accomplishments in both sports.
In a 2014 Golf Digest story, the magazine wrote that 40 golfer/bowlers had reported they had accomplished the ace/300 feat, including one who said he did it on the same day.
Golf Digest listed the odds at 12,000-1 for an average player making an ace. It's 3,000-1 for a tour player and 5,000-1 for a low-handicapper. Similar to making an ace, the more proficient at bowling, the better your chance of a 300 game. The odds for a pro rolling a 300 are 460-1, and it's 11,500-1 for the average bowler.
"Pretty crazy, huh,” Wakefield said of his rather extraordinary feat.
Wakefield made his first ace on May 27, 1990, on the 134-yard 14th hole at Eisenhower White using a 9-iron. On Aug. 11, 2001, he holed out an 8-iron from 145 yards on the 17th hole at Middle Island. When he went into the clubhouse, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was there with a bodyguard. He got the mayor to sign his scorecard.
On Nov. 11, 2007, he rolled his first 300 game, completing the rare doubleheader sweep. On June 6, 2009, Wakefield knocked in his third ace, hitting a pretty 8-iron on the 150-yard 16th hole at Eisenhower Red.
This year, Wakefield bought a new bowling ball after his teammates in league play said his old ball wasn’t working well. On March 5, it was working to precision. In the second game of a series, he rolled 12 straight strikes for his 300, and made seven straight strikes to start the third game on the way to a 743 series.
While playing golf this spring, Wakefield had visions of another ace. “I was almost thinking I was due for another one, and then came this weekend,” he said.
In 1998, Wakefield lost his 17-year-old son Bryan to cancer. As he addressed the ball on the 165-yard 15th hole at Bethpage Green on Saturday, thoughts of Bryan were triggered by a butterfly.
“I got up to hit the ball and I had a butterfly flying around my feet,” Wakefield said. “That’s a sign that angels are around you or my son. I always had good feeling about that.”
Then another good swing, and another ball rolling straight into the hole.
“We have a lot of balls that go up to the hole and stop. It went right up to the edge, seemed to stop, then I watched it drop right in,” said the man with an angel on his shoulder.
Danny Ambruso, Eisenhower Blue No. 17, 125 yards, 9-iron
Phil Wakefield, Bethpage Green, No. 15, 165 yards, 7-iron
Neil Gangitano, Bretton Woods, No. 9, 190 yards, 3-wood
Pete Zabielski, Bethpage Blue, No. 17, 148 yards, 7-iron