By Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 9, 2008
According to Golf Digest, the average golfer's odds of getting a hole-in-one are 12,000-to-1. Retired master sergeant Hardin "Bobby" Jones beat the odds twice on the same hole.
Jones had his first hole-in-one Feb. 15, 2003, on Fort Jackson's Old Hickory par-3 sixth hole. The hole has since been remodeled and Jones repeated the feat April 25 during the Retiree Appreciation Days tournament, striking the ball from the white tees, 151 yards out.
"It was kind of windy, so I hit it with the 7 iron," he remembered. "I hit the shot very solid. And there was a nice trajectory going toward the hole."
The retiree's passion for the sport and his nickname evoke comparisons to golf legend Bobby Jones, an association he shies away from, even though both men scored two aces each throughout their golf careers.
"When I started playing golf, the name, 'Bobby Jones,' just kept on coming around all the time and, of course, sometimes (people) relate me to the great 'Bobby Jones,'" he said. "I'm nowhere near (as good a player as) he was."
The Columbia native has been playing golf for more than 50 years, most of it on Fort Jackson.
"I started caddying out here when I was about 12 years old," Jones said. Nowadays, he plays at least twice a week, not counting time spent at the driving range and practicing his short game.
"My golf game is OK. The only problem I have out there is my putting," he explained. "Like most people, my putter doesn't reward me as much as the other clubs do."
Despite that shortcoming, Jones is a 9-handicap golfer and competes in tournaments on Fort Jackson and throughout the state.
While he likes to compete, winning is not the most important thing for Jones anymore.
"I've had a tendency to take the game too seriously, but I've since learned to calm down and just play the game for what it is and just have fun," he said.
Jones has had many memorable moments on the golf course over the years.
"On Old Hickory number 3 - I've eagled that one at least three times from at least 170 yards out," he recollected. "That's a par 4. I've had eagles all around the golf course. You know, through the years, I've birdied every hole and eagled a few of them out here. But they don't all come on the same day, unfortunately."
Nothing compares to the memory of the two holes-in-one, though.
"In my (view), they were beautiful shots. Both of them," he said. "(Those are) the shots that you remember for a long time."