Austin's awesome albatross: He'll never forget it

Osceola County golfer shoots rare double eagle

Pine River senior Austin Dean holds the ball which he used to shoot a double eagle at Tustin Trails Golf Course on Aug. 16.

Pine River senior Austin Dean holds the ball which he used to shoot a double eagle at Tustin Trails Golf Course on Aug. 16.

File photo

LEROY – Ever heard of the expression, “an albatross around your neck?”

It’s usually not a good situation

But in golf, while an ace is a nickname for a birdie, an albatross is a nickname for a double eagle. As rare as a hole-in-one is, a double eagle, a two on a par 5 hole, is considered far more rare.

That’s why Osceola County golfer and Pine River High School senior Austin Dean is celebrating his albatross.

Two weeks ago, on Aug. 16, at Tustin Trails Golf Course in Tustin, Dean recorded the rare double eagle with a two on the No. 8 hole, which is the only par 5 on the entire course and runs about 500 yards. It’s a par 35 course. The Tustin Trails course management said it’s the first double eagle they have on their current records.

“It’s something that’s not very common,” a course spokesperson said.

Dean also plays basketball and baseball for Pine River. He was all-conference in baseball as catcher. He said he plays golf a lot although Pine River does not have a team. Dean plays most of his golf at Tustin Trails.

When he scored his double eagle, Dean was playing with another Pine River athlete, Dillon Blood.

Dean’s tee shot was with a driver off the tee and went about 290 yards, leaving him 200 yards from the green.

“I couldn’t see the flag so I couldnt tell you,” he said. “The first 300 yards is pretty straight out. It goes into a ditch. At the ditch, it doglegs a little bit left and turns right. I faded my shot about 15 to 20 yards around some trees. I usually try to hit it straight on but the position I was in required me to hit that fade, which means it will curve right.”

Dean used a hybrid for his second shot. He could not see where his second shot landed and had no clue it was in the cup. But obviously the ball was not on the green.

Initially, he felt it was a good shot.

“As we got up toward the green, I didn’t really feel too good about it and felt I over-shot the green by a lot,” he said. “I hit it really solid, really pure. I thought for sure it went over the green. I was going to look for it past the green.

“We were walking past the green but Dillon decided to look in the hole. The way he looked, I thought he was just messing with me. But he pulled the ball out of the hole.”

The ball was a Callaway Chrome Soft.

“We both freaked out,” Dean said. “I ran up to him and jumped in the air. He jumped in the air and lifted me up.”

They were both playing for fun and not keeping score.

“We played the next hole and met a couple of our friends who were playing nine and they were on the green and I told them about it and went into the pro shop and told the others about it,” Kanouse said.

The course owner, Ken Kanouse, was setting up at the ninth hole to take a shot and saw Dean and Blood celebrate.

“He asked me if that was a two and it I said it was,” Dean said. “He didn’t see it go in.”

No one witnessed the shot going in but Dean said he saw a ballmark a little left of the hole, about 40 to 50 feet back and to the left.

“It’s a pretty big green,” he said. “It probably hit there and bounced a few times and rolled in forward. It’s pretty uphill from there.”

When he played his ninth hole “I was fired up,” Dean said. “The adrenaline was pumping.”

He parred the last hole.

It’s his fifth year of playing golf, and he has never had an ace or eagle but Dean has had a few birdies. He usually shoots slightly above par.

Dean calls it one of the “top 5 or top 3 best moments in my life.”

How rare is it?

It’s pointed out on a golf website that double-eagle odds can't be definitively calculated, because nobody is entirely certain how many double eagles are really made at all levels of golf. Different sources give different numbers, which are all just estimates based on incomplete data.

A 2004 article in Golf World magazine quoted Dean Knuth, inventor of the USGA's slope rating system for golf courses and handicaps, as saying the 6-million-to-1 figure some experts give on a double eagle is too high. Knuth put the odds at 1-million-to-1.

The odds of making an ace are in the neighborhood of 13,000-to-1 for the average golfer.

Here are a few other golf website tidbits:

-Approximately 40,000 aces a year are made in the United States, compared to just a couple hundred double-eagles.

-In the 21 years on the PGA Tour from 1983 through 2003, there were 631 holes-in-one made, but just 56 double eagles. And in none of those years were more than six albatrosses recorded.

-From its inception in 1934 through 2016, there were 27 aces in The Masters but only four albatrosses.

-From 1895 through 2015 at the U.S. Open, there were 44 aces and three double eagles.

 

Hole-in-one

Tustin Trails also recorded a hole-in-one on Monday, Aug. 22 by Dick Sutton on hole No. 6, 129 yards long, using a 6 iron. It was it witnessed by Rich Johnson, Mike Sebastiano and Dennis Harden.