LEWISTOWN – Of all the hole-in-one stories out there, this one would be tough to believe if there weren’t witnesses.
“I hit a seven iron and hate to admit it, but I bladed it like I usually do,” said Lewistown’s Jim Rutherford, talking about his tee shot on the daunting par 3 sixth hole at Pine Meadows. That’s his home course, and he was recently playing the club championship.
“It hit that bank, went about 15 feet in the air, and we couldn’t see where the ball went,” said Rutherford. “I mean, we saw it on the green, and, of course, you don’t see where it goes because the pin was behind the tree.”
Rutherford was just hoping not to lose a ball. Maybe even keep it on the green. Instead, it rolled in to the cup.
“We didn’t know until we walked up looking for the ball,” he said. “Couldn’t find the ball, so I said, ‘Well, I’m going to look in the hole, maybe it’s in there.’”
Sure enough, jackpot. Rutherford had connected on his third lifetime hole-in-one — all three on the sixth hole at Pine Meadows. As they say, he sort of acted like he’d been there before.
“I mean, there was a little celebration, but nothing crazy,” said the 62-year-old. “We took a few pictures of me holding the ball and getting the ball out.”
Two holes back, Rutherford’s son Tyler was also playing the championship and had no idea what his dad had just done.
“I had just hit a really bad shot on (hole No.) 5 and I was getting really mad at myself,” Tyler said. “I told myself, ‘Something has to happen here.’”
Then he launched a ball toward the towering tree that blocks the No. 6 green.
“Just hit a draw,” he recounted. “Thought it hit the tree, but it went through: three feet and one-hopped right in the hole.”
That’s right, just minutes after his dad aced the sixth hole, Tyler turned in a father-son minor miracle. Like dad, though, he didn’t actually see the ball drop in to the cup. But the group behind did.
“Actually, I was the last one to hit and I just started walking up the stairs,” Tyler said. “Those guys behind us just started screaming. They asked, ‘Who hit that?’ I’m like, ‘I did.’ They’re like, ‘It went in the hole.’ I’m like, ‘Really? Awesome!’”
The two Par 3s at Pine Meadows are said to be two of the toughest in Montana. Aside from the full-grown tree in front, the green slopes at about 45 degrees. When a ball reaches, it tends to roll and roll and roll… and roll.
“It’s so sloped and it’s a pretty severe green,” said Jim Rutherford. “But the tree is just right in your way, so it just takes out half of the green with the tree in your way, so you just play everything left of the tree and hope it rolls down to the pin.”
For those not familiar with golf etiquette, there’s still the matter of: those who hit the hole-in-one buy everybody on the course a drink. So how did this double-dipper work?
“Yeah,” said Jim, “we actually had two tabs going. Except, except some of my good friends charged about six six-packs to me. It was only about $150 bucks, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Now the question begs, what do they do they do for an encore?
“You know, I don’t know,” admitted Jim. “We were looking later on Google and it was like 17-million-to-one odds that that would happen with your son, on the same day, on the same hole. And we actually ended up shooting the same score (84), which is even crazier.”