Dom DeBonis made his first hole-in-one in 1969 after 20 years playing golf.
He waited 45 years for his second, which came in early September at Cane Garden Country Club in The Villages, Fla., where he lives.
He now has five, as his next three came in the span of about 48 hours two weeks ago on the Grand Strand.
DeBonis, 81, made aces in three consecutive rounds over three days during a buddies golf trip, and he just might be the first player in the history of the game to pull off such an amazing feat.
“That was unbelievable. It was just magic,” DeBonis said by phone Monday.
“ After I had the third one they said, ‘We’ve got to buy lottery tickets.’ They were touching me and saying, ‘Call out some numbers.’ We bought about $50 in lottery tickets between us. And guess what? We didn’t hit. So that didn’t work.”
Greg Esterhai, owner of U.S. Hole in One, which has been providing hole-in-one prize insurance since 1998 and participates in about 9,000 events a year, said his company has calculated the odds of an amateur golfer making an ace on a 165-yard hole to be 1 in 12,500. DeBonis’ holes were shorter, but he’s also 81.
The odds of making three in three consecutive rounds? DeBonis said some math majors figured the odds to be 1 in 1.953 trillion. Whatever the actual number, the odds are astronomical, as anyone who plays the game can attest.
The first ace came on Oct. 6 at Farmstead Golf Club with a 9-iron on the 112-yard 17th. The second came at Thistle Golf Club with a 7-iron on the 129-yard sixth hole of the Mackay nine.
The group was celebrating DeBonis’ second ace that day at the pool at Long Bay Resort when one of his friends said, “You know what, don’t walk around the pool, you can walk on water the way you’re going right now.”
And he wasn’t done yet. The next day at Blackmoor Golf Club he holed an 8-iron from 118 yards on the fourth hole. Unlike his first two aces of the week, the group couldn’t see the ball drop because of shadows, but DeBonis had a feeling it went in.
DeBonis and his group finished their week on the links on Oct. 9 at TPC Myrtle Beach, where the magic came to an end.
DeBonis is a Pennsylvania native who took golf trips to Myrtle Beach five years in a row while living in New Jersey and working in the Empire State Building in New York as a vice president of the men’s apparel company April Marcus. He retired and moved to The Villages 15 years ago, and about a dozen players from a regular Wednesday golf group decided to take a golf trip to the Strand last year. They experienced bad weather but booked again in 2014.
“It’s just to break up the monotony and go there and just have some fun,” said DeBonis, who played on the Duquesne University golf team.
Though he made just one hole-in-one over his first 65 years in the game, DeBonis has made a habit of breaking his age on the course, as he did Monday with a 78. He had two 78s and a 76 among his four rounds on the Strand.
DeBonis has become a celebrity through his achievement. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including Golf Channel and PBS TV, and he fielded a call from a writer in Australia on Monday.
“It’s a remarkable thing that has happened,” DeBonis said. “I’ve been elated with everything that’s been going on.”
The down side to having four aces in the span of about a month? You are expected to buy rounds of drinks for your playing partners and friends after an ace. “Between the one in September and the three I had down there, it was about $500,” DeBonis said. “I don’t mind doing that if I get hole-in-ones. The guys were pretty good to me. They didn’t overdo it.”