Janesville’s Dave Johnson is a wizard of the hole-in-one

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
— Dave Johnson of Janesville is very good, or he is a very, very lucky golfer.

What else can you say about a guy who has made six holes-in-one in 20 years?

“I never deny I play a lot of golf,” said Johnson, the semi-retired general manager and community relations consultant for Bliss Communications. “I love the game.’’

A 10-handicapper, Johnson has made five holes-in-one at the Janesville Country Club, including four on the par-3, 141-yard third hole, another on the par-3, 196-yard fifth hole and another at the TPC of Phoenix in Arizona.

Johnson believes making a hole-in-one is based on a combination of things.

“Luck, skill and frequency,” Johnson said. “In this climate, I play 100 rounds of golf.’’

Even if Johnson attributes his success to playing a lot of golf, Glen Erin pro Rob Vega said Johnson’s success is uncanny.

“What tour is he on?” Vega asked. “Usually, players who are on the Tour can consistently hit the ball that close, but six holes-in-one from an amateur is pretty darn impressive.’’

The odds of making a hole-in-one depend on the source and numbers used. Nobody knows the true number of aces made every year.

Golf Digest magazine hired Francis Scheid, the retired chairman of the math department at Boston University, to calculate hole-in-one odds as reported in About.com.

The odds Scheid came up with were 5,000-to-1 for a “low-handicapper,” and 12,000-to-1 for an “average player.” If you are a low-handicapper and play 1,000 rounds in your life, according to Scheid, you have a 20-percent chance of recording an ace. If you play 5,000 rounds, your odds are 1:1.

JCC professional Lance Marting said holes-in-one at the Country Club are unpredictable.

“We’ve had as few as one (a season) to as high as 12 in the last 10 years,” Marting said. “We could have multiple holes-in-one in one day and none for months.’’

Making a hole-in-one is reason to celebrate, but it can be costly.

Marting said members put money in a kitty as insurance for a hole-in-one and use the funds to celebrate. Johnson threw a great Fourth of July party several years ago.

“He probably spent a couple hundred that day,” Marting said.

Johnson’s six aces pale in comparison to Norman Manley’s record. He made a golf-leading 59 aces between 1964 and 1979, according to the U.S. Golf Register.

The Golf Register also lists the longest hole-in-one as being by Michael J. Crean of Denver, who posted his ace on the par-5, 517-yard ninth hole at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club on July 4, 2002.

The oldest player to post an ace was 101-year-old Harold Stilson of Boca Raton, Fla., according to the Golf Register website.

Johnson vividly remembers his first hole-in-one at the Country Club. He had tried a new set of clubs at the driving range before an outing’s shotgun start.

“I walked across the road, went to the third hole, and with my first swing of the day I made a hole-in-one.” Johnson said. “I was so nervous the rest of the day. I wanted to put in the hole-in-one and not my score.’’

Steve Van Galder has witnessed two of Johnson’s aces at the Country Club and in Phoenix.

“We’ve been playing golf for years, and it’s just a fun thing to watch,” Van Galder said. “Our group has three or four (holes-in-one) between us, but he by far is out in front.

“He has a good swing,” Van Galder said. “It’s fun to watch someone knock one in.’’

Johnson wants to pass the thrill along.

“I have a very close friend who has played golf a long time,” Johnson said. “He’s a good golfer and has not had a hole-in-one, and I’d like to see him make one to share the experience.’’

It’s one swing of a golfing lifetime that Johnson has enjoyed six times.

Last updated: 2:19 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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