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Cousins hit three holes-in-one in three days at Pike Lake

A hole-in-one showdown between cousins reached dizzying heights recently at Pike Lake Golf Course. Will Jordan, 13, of Appleton, Wis., and Jesse Gilberg, 15, of Pike Lake began play July 17 with no career aces. Three days later, they say, they ha...

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A hole-in-one showdown between cousins reached dizzying heights recently at Pike Lake Golf Course.

Will Jordan, 13, of Appleton, Wis., and Jesse Gilberg, 15, of Pike Lake began play July 17 with no career aces. Three days later, they say, they had a combined three.

Jordan started the family duel that day on the 159-yard No. 6 hole using a 9-iron.

Gilberg shot back July 18 on the 104-yard No. 2 hole with a sand wedge.

He then reloaded July 19 on the 146-yard No. 7 hole brandishing an 8-iron.

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Hard to believe? The boys insist that it's true, and they have witnesses -- and course owners -- in their corner.

"When we were getting a ride to the course [July 19], Will's mom said, 'One of you guys is going to get another hole-in-one today.' And I said, 'It's one-in-a-million that each of us has one already,' '' said Gilberg, who will be a sophomore at Proctor High School this fall. "Then I get another one, and you should've seen how huge our eyes were when we looked at each other.''

Pike Lake co-owners Bonnie and Mark Carlson said they were a bit skeptical at first as the cousins appeared to be the only witnesses.

Yet after some investigating, the Carlsons said they found that there were two teenage playing partners who witnessed Jordan's hole-in-one; that two witnesses, not in the boys' group, said they saw Gilberg's first ace; and that a golfer on the course said she watched Gilberg walk from the seventh tee to the green and pick a ball out of the hole on his second ace (although the golfer didn't see the tee shot.)

For most holes-in-one, golf courses require just one witness, usually a playing partner, said Bonnie Carlson.

"Even though this is against the odds, these things can happen, and I'm satisfied that these youngsters did what they said,'' Bonnie Carlson said. She said Jordan and Gilberg will have their names engraved on the course's 2007 plaque listing those recording holes-in-one.

The odds of an amateur making a hole-in-one vary, according to published reports, with 1 in 12,500 being the most noted. Joe Gallian, a professor of mathematics at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said the odds of two golfers collecting holes-in-one on three straight days aren't necessarily astronomical.

"These things are much more common than the layperson might think," Gallian said. "When something like this happens, people say, 'That's highly improbable.' But it's really not when you consider the huge number of golfers and golf courses and the thousands of twosomes that were golfing those three days."

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Gallian illustrated his point by noting that if 10 million people flipped coins 20 times, it wouldn't be unusual for a dozen or so to get heads 20 times in a row.

"With such a large number of events, there will be flukes," Gallian said.

Despite their ages, the cousins aren't rookies. Gilberg says he plays at the nine-hole, par-32 Pike Lake course almost every day, often taking his 14-foot boat (powered by 5½-horse engine) on a 10-minute ride across Pike Lake from his home.

Jordan's family belongs to the North Shore Golf Club in Menasha, Wis., 10 miles from their home, and he says he also golfs daily.

Jordan was in the Duluth area on a family vacation and golfed with Gilberg almost every day. They said their ace experiences were similar.

"All three were the same,'' said Jordan, a

seventh-grader at Appleton's Classical Charter School this fall. "The ball took a good bounce off the fairway and rolled right to the lip of the cup and in. After the first one we were kind of speechless. It was shocking.''

Gilberg was particularly speechless because his cousin, in just his fourth round on the course, had an ace.

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"I wanted to get one pretty bad, but I said, 'I probably won't see another one in my lifetime,' '' he said.

But on consecutive days he rallied to take a 2-1 lead. Gilberg said he shot a par 32 for his Wednesday round and a 2-under-par 30 Thursday. Jordan shot 32 Tuesday.

Pike Lake grounds crew member Chris Janzig of Duluth was mowing the path leading to the second green on July 18. He said he saw Gilberg's first ace, the first one he'd ever witnessed.

"They were so excited getting to the green that they were on a cell phone and walked right by me,'' said Janzig, 19, who's worked at the course for three years.

The boys' celebration of their aces, however, was tame -- eating Blizzards at Dairy Queen.

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