Golfers hit back-to-back holes-in-one at Fountaingrove course
For about 10 minutes, Mark Jenkins and Justin Lattanzio were golf rock stars.
The Sonoma County friends and longtime golfers accomplished perhaps the rarest feat of all in sports: back-to-back holes-in-one on the same hole.
On the afternoon of Friday, May 3 at the private Fountaingrove Club course, both men teed up on the ?158-yard par-3 No. 9 with 8-irons and let ’er rip.
The tale may best be told in their own words:
“It was a beautiful day,” said Jenkins, 46, an independent insurance agent. “I swung and it just went right at the pin. Justin said, ‘That could go in.’ It bounced once (from two feet out) and went right in.
“We were freaking out. People at the new temporary clubhouse saw it. Then, people came out from inside. People were all watching.
“After high-fiving together for three or four minutes, Justin stepped up with his 8-iron.”
Lattanzio, 45, who owns the custom wine grape crush company ?Vinify, had to take a breather.
“I’m not thinking about anything,” he said. “I’m just trying to make a decent swing because I’m jittery.”
But what the heck, he can’t beat an ace, so why not just go for it?
“I make my swing. It’s essentially the same ball, the same flight as Mark’s, the same trajectory,” he said.
“We were both like, ‘That’s going to go in!’
“It lands four feet in front of the pin, bounces two times and goes in,” he said.
An audience of maybe 30 people had gathered at the clubhouse by now, and pandemonium ensued, the golfers said.
“Everyone is screaming and ?yelling all over the course,” Jenkins said.
People came in from the parking lot as word spread about the uber-rare achievement.
The poor third player in the threesome, Joe Zari, decided not to interrupt the momentum.
“He just says, ‘I’m not even gonna hit.’ We just got in the cart and went up,” Jenkins said.
At the green, the trio had a Tiger Woods-like 18th-hole moment - the adulation, the cheering, the applause.
“People were giving us a standing ovation,” Jenkins said. “We’re thinking, ‘What do we do, bow, take our hats off?’
“It was the closest thing to being a superstar.”
“We felt like celebrities for like 10 minutes,” Lattanzio added.
They should feel special. What they did is astronomically rare.
According to the PGA’s National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of the average golfer making a ?hole-in-one are 12,000 to one. Less than 2% of golfers score an ace in a given year.
OK, rare. But not that uncommon.
It gets better. The odds, according to the registry, of two players from the same foursome acing the same hole are 17 million to one.
The odds of one player making two holes-in-one in the same round: 67 million to one.
There is no calculation for the odds of two players in the same group acing the same hole ?back to back.
But Fountaingrove Club management group Troon Privé is investigating, and estimates the odds of back-to-back holes-in-one on the same hole “is definitely in the hundreds of millions” to one.
A 9.6 handicap, Lattanzio already had one ace, about 30 years ago on a par 3, while golfing alone.
“You gotta have a witness,” he said. “This one feels much better.”
For Jenkins, a 3.9 handicap, this is also his second, the other one coming at Santa Rosa Country Club about eight years ago.
So once you’ve hit a ?hole-in-one and been honored with a standing O from the gallery, do you just head to the 19th Hole and start celebrating?
Nope. There are rules before an ace becomes official. The golfer has to finish the round and sign an official scorecard.
For the record, Jenkins shot a 78 and Lattanzio a 77, his personal best.
Then comes another hole-in-one tradition - buying a round of drinks for everyone in the clubhouse.
Lattanzio and Jenkins lucked out here, too. They’d bought “Hole-in-One Insurance” from Fountaingrove, which at $5 a head funds celebratory drinks from the house kitty.
The pair will also receive a shadow box with their golf balls, scorecards and photos.
A week later, the friends were back on the links, still buzzing, Lattanzio said.
“We’re tied together forever,” Jenkins said. “Luckily, it was with a good friend. We’ll be taking about this for years.”
But they still have to convince doubters when they tell their story.
“Someone said, ‘You’re lying.’ But it’s gotten around,” Jenkins said. “There were so many people who saw it, there no denying it.”
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or email@example.com.