Nobody can say 10-year-old golfer Austin Jet, from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, doesn't know how to put on a show. Especially when the cameras are rolling.
On Sept. 15, the golf prodigy - playing in a U.S. Kids Golf tournament in Phoenix, Arizona - eschewed the advice of his caddie (which could be considered disobedient since his caddie is also his mother) and used his original choice of a pitching wedge, rather than her advised sand wedge, to ace the 71-yard 12th hole at Wigwam Resort's Heritage Course.
To make the feat even more special, Austin's father (who works overseas) was watching from the other side of the planet via a Skype session - as his 8-year-old sister Avery, served as cameraman from mom's phone.
"It just flew in, never bounced or anything ... just flew straight into the hole," said a still very excited Andrea Yusnukis, Austin's mother and caddie. "We saw it come down on a good line but we could all hear it - it was a very loud audible sound. My husband could hear it too. I can still hear it."
Andrea, who was pulling double duty as caddie to both kids in this tournament, was preparing to leave her son so she could caddie for daughter (and cameraman) Avery as she began her round.
"I guess he was correct about the club selection," she laughed. "I had only 15 minutes left to take Avery to her tee time, I couldn't believe I was able to witness this shot never the less that Ron could see & hear on SKYPE...How lucky!"
Austin's first reaction was "I can't believe that just went in!" and immediately turned to the camera to make sure he could share in the celebration with his father.
The ace was "the shot heard around the world" and gave a family - hundreds of miles from home, with a key figure overseas thousands of miles away - a memory that they will enjoy together for a lifetime. The ensuing celebration was loud and raucous of course, so much so that Avery's jumping up and down actually disconnected the Skype session. Andrea quickly reconnected it so the family could continue the celebrating.
Austin would eventually end up finishing 5th in the event - but his shining moment made the entire family the big winners on the day.
Like many kids his age, Austin's affinity for golf has been encouraged by supportive parents who have not only introduced their two children to golf at a very early age (Austin's sister Avery is a competitive tournament golfer at age 8) but have also invested resources into traveling "literally hundreds of thousands of miles" in their minivan to chauffer them from tournament to tournament.
"Here in New Mexico, junior golf is just not that big" Yusnikas explained. "So for the kids to find good events for their growth and development in golf, we often travel to Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Texas. Avery (the 8-year-old sister) is often the only competitor in her age group - so she's just competing against the course. There are no other players in her division. Sometimes, she competes against teenagers."
The family's devotion to golf was born in South Florida and migrated with them to New Mexico when they moved to the Southwest for family reasons. But it was also golf that gave the family a reason and an outlet to relax together, exercise together, and significantly, bond more closely. As Ron's job took him overseas, his love of his family and of golf did not diminish and they found ways for him to still enjoy the golf exploits of the kids while being far away.
Amazingly, the ace is not Austin's first. He had one at the age of 7 while playing with his instructor. His sister has even had one, at age 5, while playing in the Callaway Junior World Tournament in San Diego. And almost certainly, this one won't be his last. But it's hard to imagine a circumstance where he'll have one more memorable. One witnessed by every member of his family, with an assist from technology, and will endure in a timeless fashion.
The Spirit of Golf is a celebration of the most important stories in golf - your stories. Though magical moments are associated with major championships or the Ryder Cup - the very best times are found when playing with family, friends, in helping a greater cause or traveling to a bucket list course. We invite all golfers to read, share and contribute their own great memories as we all work together to enjoy the "Spirit of Golf". If you have a good story for the "Spirit of Golf" - you can contact John Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org