When Andrew Steidle took a rip with a 4-iron on the short par-4 16th at Rockville Links last Wednesday, he was trying to play the hole the conventional way — hit something down the middle of the fairway, then pitch onto the green for a birdie chance.
Except this time he hit a big, hard pull hook that rocketed just to the right of the trees down the left side of the fairway of the 285-yard hole, trees that block a view of the green and for most players are a significant obstacle for taking a shot at the green with a driver.
"That’s on Long Beach Road. You better play a provisional,” said his father, Peter.
After his father teed off, Andrew played a second ball the way he intended to play the first. The pair reached their balls in the fairway and pitched onto the green.
But as Andrew neared the green he saw a ball that appeared to be sitting atop the cup. In the COVID-19 pandemic era of the game, it has become customary to fill most of the hole with a piece of pool noodle or rubber product so that the ball doesn’t drop to the bottom of the cup and can be easily scooped up with an iron or putter.
Sure enough there was a ball sitting atop the pool noodle, his ball, his first ball. The ball had flown around and over the trees, had avoided a phalanx of bunkers and found its way into the cup for an ace on a par 4, an extreme rarity in the game of golf.
"I was completely surprised,” the 20-year-old from Rockville Centre said. “I jumped up and down. I think my dad was more excited than I was.”
"I’ve played with a guy who has hit that green probably 10 times, never got a hole-in-one,” said the father, who has been a member at Rockville since 2007 and does not have a hole-in-one. “He says he's hit the green a hundred times.”
Andrew’s ace on the par 4 made him a 6-million-to-1 man. Those are the estimated odds of an ace on a par 4, known as a double eagle or “albatross,” given by the Double Eagle Club, a web platform for such feats. The odds of an ace on a par 3 are about 12,000-to-1.
Golf is a hobby for Andrew, who is a junior at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he is a pitcher and shortstop on the baseball team. He played baseball and wrestled at Kellenberg High School.
"I said now that you have an ace you need a handicap,” his father said. “He would probably be a 15-16 versus my 18.”
So, what did Andrew score for a round in which he was 3 under par on one hole?
“I shot an 84,” he said.
And what is your best score?
"84, for sure!”
Andrew McCarthy, Eisenhower Red, No. 5, 135 yards, 8-iron
Tom Monaghan (Setauket) Tradition Golf Club (Conn.) No. 4, 140 yards, 8-iron
Andrew Steidle, Rockville Links, No. 16, 285 yards (par 4) 4-iron
Mike Stewart, Heartland Golf Park, No. 2, 136 yards, gap wedge