Supporting and promoting golf in Northern California

Sierra Sage GC Sees Rarity, 3 Aces On 3 Different Holes Same Day

Sierra Sage GC Sees Rarity, 3 Aces On 3 Different Holes Same Day

July 15, 2014


According to the National Hole In One Registry, on average an ace is scored once every 3,500 rounds. Golf Digest, meanwhile, says a golfer has a 1 in 12,500 chance to make an ace.

As for what recently happened at Sierra Sage Golf Course outside of Reno, it’s so rare that it’s hard to determine the odds, let alone find them.

On June 29 at Sierra Sage, three different amateurs each made a hole-in-one on three different par-3’s.

The first ace came during the Sierra Sage Men’s Golf Club’s annual Presidents Cup tournament, when Mark McKinlay got his first ever hole-in-one on the 162-yard 4th hole using an 8-iron. The shot was witnessed by three others players in McKinlay’s foursome.

  “I was going to hit a 9-iron, but the wind kicked up and I went back for the 8-iron,” McKinlay said. “I’ve hit them up there a lot and it usually ends up on the back of the green , so I wasn’t holding my breath. I saw it in the hole and we all high-fived. Plus, it was a skin.”

 Later in the day, Salomon Solano aced the 16th,  a tricky downhill 163-yard par 3 over  sagebrush into a two-tiered green, using a 6-iron.

Less than an hour after Solano’s ace, Rich Barnes made it a trifecta, as he scored a hole-in-one on the 172-yard 8th hole using a 6-iron. Like McKinlay, it was Barnes’ first ace.

 “It was a regular trajectory shot that I landed in the middle of green, one big bounce and it trickled in the hole, just like on TV,” the 18-handicapper from Sparks , NV said. “My playing partners had never seen one. I did a little dance. I was so amped up that I hit my drive almost 350 on the next hole, but I got an eight.”

Among those baffled and intrigued by the onslaught of aces was Dave Nelson, President of Hole-In-One USA, a Reno company that issues hole-in-one prizes for tournaments through an insurance program backed by Zurich North America.  

Nelson had to turn the clock back a bit to remember anything similar.            

 “The closest thing to this that I can recall was at the U.S. Open at Oak Hill in 1989 when four players (Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price) aced the same hole (No.6) on the same round. But it was an easy pin position, and they are pros for a reason.” Nelson said.

6th hole plaque @ Oak Hill.336x254

So Nelson went to work. Using data from his company’s hole-in-one programs ,which have been running since 1991, and measuring that against the 220 players who were at Sierra Sage that fateful Sunday, Nelson calculated that the odds of another trifecta happening again are greater than most of us seeing Halley’s Comet.

“Two holes-in-one in a day, we could see that once every six years,” Nelson said. “Three in one day, on three different holes no less, that would come along once every 342 years.”

Ironically, Sierra Sage itself that has overcome some tough odds. Just five years ago, the course was slated for closure by owner Washoe County due to lack of rounds played and budget issues.

Since then, PGA professionals Mike and Denise Mazzaferri’s Cal-Mazz Golf Group has taken over management and maintenance of the course, working diligently to get the course back on its feet.

The course today hosts the region’s largest men’s golf club along with many state amateur and regional tournaments.

Halley’s Comet, meanwhile, is expected to next be seen around the year 2061.

-Jerry Stewart



Author: Jerry Stewart

Share This Post On