Kevin O’Hara, a longtime Eagle contributor, is the author of “Ins and Outs of a Locked Ward: My 30 Years as a Psychiatric Nurse.”


A MASS GOLF medallion adorns Eagle columnist Kevin O’Hara’s golf bag.

Years ago, when I was as fit as a billy goat, I’d team up with my diehard golfing buddies on June 21 1 the summer solstice — and play 36, 45 and even 54 holes. We’d tee off at dawn and lumber back to the clubhouse at nightfall, exhausted yet triumphant. Our noble efforts were promptly rewarded with a frothy pitcher of cold beer that must’ve been brewed at Heaven’s Gate.

Those cherished days are well behind me, but I’ve kept up my custom of playing golf until twilight on the solstice. So, on the equinox just past, I played nine holes that morning as a first-year member at the Berkshire Hills Country Club and returned at 7 p.m. to finish my round, as well as to keep my tradition alive.

It was my typical outing of lackluster shots until I came to the short par 3, 128-yard 17th hole, situated on its lofty plateau. Just as I was ready to tee off, Tom Daly, a friend and fellow member at BHCC, came traipsing through the fading light with a golf bag slung over his shoulder, heading for his nearby home on Allengate Avenue.

“Hey, Tom, do you want to play up 17?”

“Sure thing,” he replied. “This is where I got my hole-in-one back in May 2017 using a 6-iron. Have you ever had one?”

“Yep, the 8th at Pontoosuc, back in 2012,” I answered proudly. “I was playing with my son, Eamonn, on the eve of my 63rd birthday. Some thrill, especially since the odds of getting an ace is 12,500 to one.”

“Do you still have the ball?”

“You kidding! It’s mounted on my wall back home. How about you?’

“Yes, safely retired. Do you know that our 93-year-old multiple club champ, Bob Ahlen, who still shoots in the 80s, has carded 10 aces in his fabulous career? Yes, 10! Then we have members who’ve played here for 60 years, and they’ve yet to get one.”

After hearing how Tom had hit a 6-iron to score his rare ace on this hole, I exchanged my 7-iron for a 6 and sent my ball skyrocketing into the lingering light. It was the sweetest shot of the evening, the ball landing softly on the green and taking a favorable bounce toward the pin.

“That’s going to be close,” said Tom, hitting his own ball just short of the front trap.

When I arrived to the elevated green, I found that my ball was nowhere in sight. However, what often happens on 17 is that your ball rolls off its slippery putting surface, and settles in the high rough or deep bunker.

As Tom hit his approach shot, I continued to scour the outer fringes of the green, and even to places where my ball could not possibly be. With a racing heart, I finally concluded that my ball had to be in the hole. At that moment, Tom gave me a shout, while wildly waving the flagstick in my direction. “Hey, Kev, looks like you’ve got yourself another hole-in-one!”

Ecstatic, I crawled to the hole on all fours and peered into the cup to see my Bridgestone 2 gleaming back at me — a sight as dazzling as any star. I plucked out my ball and raised it to the darkening sky, proclaiming, “Thank you, Tom, for showing up out of the blue!”

“Glad to have helped,” he laughed, congratulating me with a flurry of high-fives. “Now you need to report your hole-in-one to the Mass Golf Association. In return, they’ll send you a handsome medallion for your golf bag and enroll you in their official ‘Hole in One Club.’ But make sure to include my name. As you know, if you don’t have a witness, your ace doesn’t count.”

“Got it!” I said, tucking the Bridgestone into my pocket for safekeeping, a golf ball to be enshrined and admired for all my living days.

Following our fortuitous meeting, Tom resumed his short walk home. Little did he know that he’d score his second ace four days later at Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown. Talk about good karma!

For myself, I dallied up the final fairway in a stupor, as I replayed that unlikely shot in my head again and again. By the time I reached the 18th green, fireflies were winking madly in the deep gloaming. But on that magical midsummer’s night, I believed they were a gallery of fans applauding my improbable feat.

Kevin O’Hara, a longtime Eagle contributor, is the author of “Ins and Outs of a Locked Ward: My 30 Years as a Psychiatric Nurse.”