San Diego woman, 73, records aces on consecutive days

By
Bryce Miller
The San Diego Union-Tribune

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 | 3:04 p.m.

SAN DIEGO -- Somewhere in San Diego County, a pharmacist is wandering around with no clue about the rare golfing air random playing partner Kathy Odell was breathing.

Odell hustled to Tecolote Canyon Golf Course on Saturday, armed with clubs, a secret mission and an astronomical hot streak. She caught up with the man on Hole No. 2 with a greedy, green-targeting goal in tow.

The retired teacher hoped to sink a hole in one for the third consecutive day.

You didn't mention it?

"Well, no," said Odell, 73. "I thought it would seem pretentious to say I was out there trying to do it again."

Odell put the putt-less wheels in motion Thursday -- on a luckier than normal St. Patrick's Day -- by acing her tee shot on No. 6 at Balboa Park. Roughly 26 hours later, she repeated the sport's hole-y grail on No. 10 at Tecolote.

So, how unlikely was the two-day run?

According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of an averaging golfer carding a "1" hover around 12,000 to 1. The probability of two in a single round skyrockets to 67 million to 1. So, the chances on consecutive days fall somewhere in between.

It felt like time to fumble for the cell phone and call Juanjuan Fan, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at San Diego State University. An online bio indicates that her research interests include "multivariate failure time data."

Bottom line: She's like crazy, super smart. We bat around some numbers and data. Tecolote is a specialized course, with 14 par-3s, but still. Fan played along and generated a number.

I struggled to capture all the digits flying at me. I asked, "Is that six zeroes after the decimal point?"

"No," Fan said. "Eight zeroes. Zero point zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, six, four."

Six zeroes? Eight? Who cares? At this point, I get it. Odell pulled off something that requires a numerical tidal wave to comprehend. You might as well buy a lottery ticket.

"Oh, I did that," Odell said. "I spent a couple of bucks each on two tickets, but it didn't pan out."

At Balboa, Odell pulled out a driver to tame the 179-yard No. 6 -- one of the most difficult holes on the course. Longer odds awaited, both figuratively and literally: The hole-in-one specialists estimate women account for just 14 percent of aces with the average distance of all "1s" at 147 yards.

Odell and round-mate Linda Schubert of El Cajon each uncorked solid tee shots.

All that remained: Finding a missing ball.

"That's a long hole," said Schubert, who played with Odell during both history-denting rounds. "A lot of women don't even dream getting on that green. ... As we walked up, I said, 'I only see one ball on the green.' Laughingly, Kathy goes, 'Well, look in the hole.'

"I went up and saw her ball. Mine was pin-high, which would be great on any other day, but mine took second place to hers that day."

The next day, Odell flirted with par golf as she approached No. 10 at Tecolote. She grabbed a 5-iron and let it rip from the blue tees, 129 yards out.

The women had been paired for the day with a man who walked to the green before them. He took a subtle peek in the hole and coyly continued to walk past. Odell asked if he saw the ball.

"Well, look in the cup," he said.

The reaction, Odell said: "Well, don't quote me on this, but, 'Holy ----."

The staggering series of events tested even her believability reserves.

"If someone else told me they did it," Odell said, "I'd be like, 'Hmm, yeah.' "

The courses confirmed the holes in one. Jason Rhodehamel, the general manager at Tecolote, laughed when he learned their ace followed one at Balboa.

"I'm never going to gamble with Kathy again," said Rhodehamel, adding that he was going to comp her next round for the feat. "I think she's a sand-bagger."

The memorable pair of strokes became the fourth and fifth holes in one for Odell, who collected her first about 25 years ago. Just 9 percent of all golfers pick up at least three aces in their lifetimes, according to the registry.

Odell also is doing her part to boost California's bid to become the hole in one capital of the United States. The state is tied with Texas for the most, the national group reports, at 9 percent.

Reshaping green-chasing goals after back-to-back days of golf glory will be tough for Odell, right? She stopped me.

"I'll just work on the next one," Odell said.

Someone tell the pharmacist.

This article was written by Bryce Miller from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.