In 55 years of chasing golf balls around South Florida courses, Robert “Bob” Stamen never made a hole-in-one.
That is, until Jan. 14. Stamen, 65, was with friends playing a round at The Senator Course at Don Shula’s Golf Course in Miami Lakes, which he visits about 10 times a year.
As Stamen approached the third tee, the early morning conditions were perfect: it was cool, cloudy and there wasn’t any glare.
As Stamen swung his Titleist hybrid 5-iron from the white tees, he knew he’d hit the ball well.
Trouble was, he couldn’t see where it went after it flew 145 yards.
“I bent down to pick up my tee and I saw the ball hit the green and roll toward the pin,” Stamen, an attorney who specializes in estate planning. “I said to the other guys, ‘I think it rolled off the green.’”
One of his friends predicted it went into the hole.
“We pull up and I don’t see the ball and I looked in the hole and there it was,” Stamen said. “Everyone was hooting and hollering. I was the main hooter, I think.”
Stamen had trouble concentrating on the rest of his round after that success, a rare lifetime achievement for a golfer who plays up to three times a week and
shoots mid-80s to mid-90s.
The National Hole-in-One Registry says, for an average player, the odds of making an ace are 12,000 to 1.
Stamen was playing with about a dozen friends that day and did win the group’s informal tournament, as well skin on the third hole and, of course, the closest to the hole prize.
It would have been impossible for anyone else to beat perfection.
He calls Shula’s “a fun and challenging course, with a lot of water, lakes and hazards, on the back nine especially. I’ll be back to play Shula’s again.”
A friend is having the ball made into a trophy that is destined for a place of honor in the Coconut Grove home Stamen shares with his wife Fleta.
A golf tradition for anyone who makes a hole-in-one is to buy drinks for friends at the bar when play is done. The pandemic got in the way of that good time, but Stamen said, “I’ve given everyone a rain check.”
That night, he and Fleta went out to dinner, “and my wife ordered a bottle of champagne. So we celebrated pretty well.”
Stamen said he’s come close to making a hole-in-one before.
“I’ve hit close to less than a foot away, many times,” he said. “But this time it settled into the cup, and everyone was happy.”
He says there was “certainly luck involved. You can hit a good shot and it doesn’t go close.”
Of the rare occurrence, he said, “I don’t know if it’s a miracle. It’s a great sport, and you have fun with your friends.
“You’re never going to conquer golf,” Stamen said. “You can never beat golf. But it’s fun trying.”