The One on #1
There are many firsts of Eastmoreland. The first municipal golf course in Oregon. The first west coast location for USGA's Public Links Championship. The first golf course built as the centerpiece of a housing development.
#1 Hole is a first like no other. What seems at first glance on the card, as a very short Par 4. Easy right? Wrong... so very, very wrong. #1 is one of the highest scoring averages for Par 4's in the Men's club at 4.71. Sure, more traditional danger lurks ahead with the long needle of #7 or the wetland dogleg of #16. "Good Par" is the best compliment on #1 and Birdie often wins the payball.
#1 offers the golfer the slight of Chandler Egan's magician hand, tricking the player to believing this will be an easy starting hole then the entire round will be a breeze. Depending on the tees the hole measures a mere 297-311. Now circa 1918, this most definitely represents a par 4, though by all accounts there seems to be evidence that the ball could roll out considerable distance. It's unlikely anyone could legitimately reach the green well into the 1950's and 60's with the rise of big hitters like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
Any Newcomers that reaches for driver and almost always find trouble. Though tempting, the practiced locals know better. The landing area of tree lined fairway converges with like a triangle vice offering a landing spot which tightens to only about 15 yards wide the last 30 or so yards. For most, the shot calls for a 185-200 yards, like a hybrid in the winter when the ground is soft. In the summer, when the ball can bounce and scoot anywhere, most players reach for a 5-6i iron depending on their length and preferred approach shot. For every 10 yards closer you wish to be you have to calculate the risk knowing the fairway shrinks the same amount laterally.
The ideal landing spot is right center of the fairway, which offers an approach unimpeded by the looming old oak tree on the left front corner that covers almost half the left green from it's high perched branches. Balls that catch a branch could be sent in any direction, left towards hardpan all around the oak's trunk, back to the fluffy long rough behind the green or just as often straight down into the jelly bean shaped bunker. This hazard is truly a sand "trap" positioned above highest portion of the green - requiring a shot to surpass about five yards of bumpy patched rough. The entire green slopes hard from the front left corner down to the back right corner. Even a perfectly placed shot might just roll out. Golfers watch helplessly and moan in disbelief as the ball slides away past the hole all the way to the apron on the far right side of the downhill.
Let's say you have the discipline to make two solid shots and you're on the green in two. You're only halfway there. To beat the magician, make sure you're someplace below the hole with a chance for a birdie putt. Otherwise good luck! This sloping first green is a signature of architect Chandler Eagan's design for #1 at many of his courses. His belief was the first hole should offer a fairly easy drive and approach, because the player is just warming up. Then, lest the gold ring be too easy to grasp, give them a knee breaking test on putting green. Gauntlet thrown.
Birdies do happen, just not very often, because it's rare for anyone to really stick it close, and with some pin placements on the right side, the ball just won't stay put, especially in the summer. Even if you've hit a beauty, typically on the left front (just not too far into said oak tree) that takes a favorable light bounce and rolls out say 10 to 20 feet away from the pin. Next you better get your green reading goggle on and hope you got the speed dialed. Of course, you're not really ready because it's Hole #1. You finished your coffee barely 30 minutes ago and hopefully got a dozen or so putts on the practice green. This putt will be lightening fast downhill, an uphill requiring a hard rap, or a sidehill putt where you have to aim a good 5 or more feet outside the cup.
Go ahead make your putt... Just make sure that you give yourself the best chance for a tap-in par - because that 4.71 scoring average is because of "snapper" second putts that are left with a little too much "meat on the bone" resulting in 3-putt bogey. All those newbies I mentioned - if they didn't find themselves blocked by trees and already scrambling chipping across the greens from hard scrabble lies and rough - then they'd be darn lucky or darn good get down in 2. The slope and speed makes 4-putting a very real danger for those unaware. Many a scratch players in the City Championship find themselves woozy and dizzy grinding over a 2 foot putt for a 6. The very same person who was ready to tear up the "easy track" could very well have mark a triple or snowman on the card. "What just happened?" they all think. Another victim of Chandler's puzzling magic.
On October 20, 1991 - Jack Schneider found the way to beat the Magician's hand.
On October 20, 1991 - Jack Schneider found a way to beat the magician's hand. Jack's been a member for some 30+ years. Just a few years later he would win both the City Championship and the Men's Club Championship, a feat rarely accomplished. Eastmoreland is Jack's territory and though he's a humble guy and wouldn't consider himself one of the Eastmoreland Wolves. He will just offer a friendly smile and reluctantly take your money each Sunday. Of course he'll also give you some condolences on the bad breaks and compliments on good shots so you feel pretty good about coming back next week to contribute to his lunch tab. If that's not the trait of the Wolves, then I don't know what is...
Of course in 1991, guys like Bennie Hughes were still in the game and Jack was just a young Wolf pup. At this time guys like Doug LeMear Sr. were leaders of the Men's club, the 1-club tournament with Peter Jacobsen was the biggest event of the year. The Men's club itself was larger than today - and entry was limited to those who had a handicap of 10-or less. Tee times were not assigned in advance - everyone had to show up at 7:30 and the captains (the guys with the lowest handicap, like Jack) would then pick teams in the parking lot like sandlot game. Just imagine a bunch of guys ranging from 25-65, picking teams with older guys like Doug LeMear Sr, remaining proud he still had enough game to make the cut.
The tees in those days were in a different location, under a massive large oak that was cut away about a decade ago. (remains of the trunk are at least 5-foot diameter) The old box is where the current chipping green is now, so the angle was slightly different. The oak tree on the left was still pretty foreboding though quite a bit smaller with 25 years of growth to the present day.
Jack approached the tee like every Sunday with his team and hope the guys could go low and make some cash and buy some beers at the end of the round. Up ahead was Doug LeMear Sr and Jr and their foursome was on the green about to line up their putts.
Jack played a Taylor Made burner circa 1989 or 1990, the leading metal wood at the time. It was significantly smaller compared to Callaway's just released "great big bertha" which itself was only half the size of modern titanium and fiberglass drivers. By today's standards the Driver had a face just slightly larger than our modern hybrids and or 5 woods. At the time though - these drivers offered considerable length and forgiveness compared to the persimmon woods of the day. No doubt there were just as many men's club players that were still playing persimmon woods in 1991 and for at least another few years.
It's likely Jack caught a few comments for reaching for the driver on #1 though it wasn't as though he expected to actually reach the green. Sure, he had gotten there a few times in the dried out summer, though it was a rarity.
On this day, he hit a bomb, straight down the left side, almost a perfect angle. He could see it land short of the green and take a hop towards the group of golfers lining up their putts. From a distance he heard them yell and immediately turned red realizing he hit into Doug LeMear Senior and immediately the pleasure of beautiful drive was overcome by the embarrassment and shame of hitting into the group. He honestly felt really bad about it. LeMear could get a little grouchy so the loud shouting, hand waving and goings on made him worry is the ball actually hit someone. He imagined having to apologize hat in hand on the next hole.
In fact what happened, as recounted by Doug LeMear Junior was that the flag stick was located back left, the one part of the green with a gentle slope. Junior had just removed the pin so Senior could line up a putt from about the center front of the green. He was watching from behind the hole so he had a clear view of the drive when he heard the "thump!" of the ball bounce of the front of the green and dance towards the hole.
"Get out of the way Dad!" he said as the entore fourseome trained their eyes on Jack's ball... as it kept rolling tawards the pin like a well struck chip shot. The ball crested the high side ridge and then started to turn towards the hole at just the right speed on the perfect line to catch the slope and....
"Plunk" center of the cup : )
No one was upset, for they just witnessed the very first hole in one on #1!! A feat that may never be seen again.
edJack said, realizing he was 3-under at the 2nd tee was such a weird feeling. The entire Men's club and course was a buzz with the news - it's getting shouted all over the course foursome to foursome. Rob Cumpston remembers getting the call on the walkie-talkie from the ranger - who may have been McPike that day - a role traditionally held by the retired guys with a sunsetting game. All the old guys in the club including Benny Hughes were quite certain it's the only hole in one on #1 ever, because no one could recall the old timers from the past ever mentioning this. And this feat is the kind no one ever forgets.
What's also telling about rest of this round is that Chandler Egan still gave Jack a run for the money. Trouble started with a bogey on the fairly easy 3rd hole then he ran into a buzzsaw on 7, 8 & 9. Now bogeying #7 + #8 is not too surprising as they are the most difficult par 4 and par 3 on the front 9. Bogeying #9 though will frustrate anyone and then Jack followed that with another bogey on the easiest par 5 - #11 and 2 more on #15 +#16. Jack's now on pace shoot a 4 over 76 or worse, until he mustered up some courage to pull down two birdies in a row to close out the picturesque par 3 #17 over Crystal Lake and the long march home on #18 to close with a respectable 2 over 74.
"We needed those birdies to win the match!" Winning the cash even more necessary since Jack's hole-in-one means he's on the hook to buy the entire club a drink after the round for a toast. A cherished golfing tradition going back to old Scotland.
Below see the entire history - and, if you like, Jack can probably retrace every single shot-by-shot if you prod him with a couple of budweisers on the front porch.