Today (May 2003) Ernie Els leads the 2003 PGA tour in the number of holes played per eagle at 48. He’s also fourth in driving distance and first in putting, which may explain why he gets so many eagles. The 175th ranked player, Stewart Cink, gets an eagle once every 846 holes. For amateur golfers an eagle is probably as rare as a hole-in-one.
I’ve never had a hole-in-one but I have had an eagle. It was on the 548 yard, par 5, 6th hole on the Blue course at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. For those who know the course my drive faded slightly right and landed in the first cut in the valley just beyond the bunkers. The ball was sitting up nicely and my second shot, a three wood, went perfectly straight, landing about 100 yards from the pin on the left side of the fairway.
The pin was on the front, left part of the green and plainly visible from where my ball was. My pitching wedge shot went high and straight landing in front of the hole and rolling into the hole in plain view of the other players in my foursome (the late Derek Hanson, President of the club at that time, Warren Butler, and Grey Woods.) I was stunned and perhaps a little blasÃ©. Only much later did I come to realise how seldom that would happen in my lifetime.
Derek was his usual effusive self and said he had never seen that hole played as well as I had just played it. Then someone recounted how Bobby Hall, many times club champion, had eagled that same hole, and then immediately went to the next hole, the par 3-7th, and had a hole-in-one.
My handicap was over 19 at the time and that being the number 1 stroke hole, I had two shots. The ‘1’ we put on the card no doubt helped us to win the tournament.