FALMOUTH — The way Jason Gall described the ace he shot in Round 2 of the Maine Amateur Championship on Wednesday morning, it made you wonder why everyone didn’t do it, too.

“I just hit my sand wedge, which is the perfect club, and it bounced once and dropped right in,” said Gall, 46 of Augusta. The club choice came from Gall’s caddie and son, 14-year old Carson Gall.

“I knew it was good. I didn’t know it would go in,” Carson said of his dad’s shot.

It was on the fourth hole at Portland Country Club, and as far as Randy Hodsdon — the Maine State Golf Association’s Director of Rules and Competitions knew — the first in Maine Amateur Championship play in a while. At this level of competition, courses are set up to be more challenging. That makes the hole-in-one, already an improbable task, as easy as hitting the lottery.

“It’s very rare in this type of competition. Extremely rare,” Hodsdon said.

Hodsdon ran through the last decade of Maine Am outloud, searching his mental databank for a hole-in-one. Last year at Belgrade Lakes? No. Brunswick in 2017? No. York in 2016? Uh-uh. On it went until Hodsdon was reminded there was a hole-in-one at Waterville Country Club in 2007.

“You have a better memory than me,” Hodsdon said.

The Waterville ace came off the 7-iron of Tom Caron, also on the second day of the tournament. It came on the sixth hole, 190-yarder, and was the first ace of Caron’s golf career. Caron was in the field for this year’s Maine Am, but shot a two-day score of plus-13 and barely made the cut for Thursday’s final round.

Unless Caron has enjoyed a run of unparalleled golf luck over the last dozen years, he still has a ways to go to catch Gall. Wednesday morning’s hole-in-one was his ninth, although first in tournament play. It was his third at Portland Country Club, first on hole four. Portland has four par 3 holes, and now Gall just needs an ace of 14 to complete his collection.

The most famous hole-in-one in Maine Am history still belongs to Mark Plummer, the 13-time winner of the tournament. In 1983 at Rockland Golf Course and on the way to his fourth title, Plummer had a huge lead after the front nine on the final day. Before attacking the back nine, Plummer ran into the clubhouse for a beer and a shot. No longer parched, Plummer went out and aced hole 10.

Plummer has 13 aces to his credit, including a couple others in tournament play. So what does he remember about that one in Rockland 36 years ago?

“Not much. I think it was a 4-iron or something,” Plummer said. “It’s just something that happens. Some guys go their whole life without one, and some guys with a 15 handicap have 10 of them.”

The fourth hole at Portland Country Club is a par-3, 150-yard hole. Recent improvements to the hole allowed Hodsdon to place the pin for Wednesday’s second round at the front right corner of the green.

“When they redid the green, they brought the front of the green up. Now we can play a 122 yard par 3,” Hodsdon said. “I put the hole there for two reasons: Just to give the guys a little bit of the break, and that part of the green was really good. It didn’t get hit hard by the winter kill.”

“The front pin position, the way the green used to be, we couldn’t have a pin there. It was so fast and so sloped. We’ve opened up more pin positions, so they can hit the ridge and spin it back. That helps,” Dan Venezio, Portland Country Club’s pro, said.

In his four years at the Club, Venezio has seen most holes in one on hole four and hole 17, he said. With the talented field in the Maine Am, he’s not shocked somebody made one in the tournament, especially when it’s Portland member Gall.

“In terms of holes in one, I’ve heard a good line. The skill is getting it close. From there it’s luck getting the ball to drop. We have 132 really good players hitting pitching wedges into that hole. Somebody is bound to get it close,” Venezio said.

Of course, the golf gods have a sense of humor.

“I went and bogeyed the next two (holes),” Gall said, “but I held it together… I missed short putts on both holes. But hey, everybody misses short putts.”

Gall birdied two of his final four holes to finish the day at -2. That pulled him even for the tournament and tied for second place, still six strokes behind leader Cole Anderson. Gall thought his Day 2 round would be enough to crack the top five, and he was right. The hole-in-one, as cool as it is, was just a piece of that.

“They jump up on you at the weirdest times,” he said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

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