Some things in life are worth the wait, and some things are worth that wait even if it takes 42 years.
Such was the case on July 16 at Hidden Valley golf course when Laverne Scheler of Yoncalla recorded his first ever hole-in-one on the 145-yard, par three 12th hole. Playing in a threesome with the Hidden Valley Men’s Club - who meets every Tuesday and Thursday morning - Scheler used his six-iron to achieve the rare feat, made even rarer by the fact that Scheler is now 87 years old.
“I started golfing when I was 45 years old, now I’m 87. Last time I played I shot at an 87, that’s my age. When you get older, the easier it is to shoot your age,” said Scheler as he recounted his over four decades of playing golf. However, until that fateful day in Cottage Grove it had been four decades that did not include a hole-in-one.
“I used a six-iron because it’s a downhill shot and, you know, if you can hit to the right side of the green it’ll roll on down to the flag. Fortunately, I hit it to the right side of the green. You’re playing the roll and if you’re lucky, you’ll get it to come close,” Scheler continued.
And come close he did. According to the National Hole-in-One Registry, the odds of an amateur golfer acing a hole is 12,500 to one. After countless rounds of golf throughout half a lifetime, Scheler finally got the roll and got lucky.
“The guy I golf with, he’s got good eyes and he said it went in the hole. I thought he was joking with me!” said Scheler when asked if he knew his fortune immediately after his tee shot.
Given his experience, Scheler is well-versed in the frustrating realities of golf. Holes-in-one are a scarce commodity in a game where hitting the ball straight can be a task. Even getting your ball close to the pin can be reason for celebration.
“I was playing with the men’s club in Stayton one time and I had one where the ball was actually about a half an inch from the hole. To get one that close is almost as good as getting a hole in one,” he said.
But the feeling of elation in accomplishing the near-impossible was by no means lost on Mr. Scheler.
“Well, of course I felt pretty excited about it. It was unbelievable … a miracle!” Scheler paused before correcting himself, “or a calculated accident is what it is.”
Accident, miracle, luck, skill. Whatever it was behind Mr. Scheler’s accomplishment that day, he plans to continue golfing as he approaches 90 years of age, especially with the Hidden Valley Men’s Club.
“I get a kick out of the guys I golf with. They say I own that hole now!”