Duluth family aces golf odds

The odds of hitting a hole-in-one vary greatly -- from 1 in about 3,000 for a professional player all the way to 1 in 40,000 for an average golfer -- depending on the source.

The odds of hitting a hole-in-one vary greatly -- from 1 in about 3,000 for a professional player all the way to 1 in 40,000 for an average golfer -- depending on the source.

But it's doubtful that odds were ever placed on three family members hitting holes-in-one during the same season. Those odds would be astronomical, right? Winning lottery ticket material. You'd have a better chance of getting hit by lightning twice ... standing in the same spot.

Yet, Peter Mellin and his two sons, Ken and Matt, beat those incalculable odds this past summer at Ridgeview Country Club. Not only did each Mellin record his first career ace at Ridgeview, but each hole-in-one also took place at a different hole.

"I don't know what the odds on that would be -- but I bet it's a lot," Peter Mellin said recently about a summer of golf the Mellins won't forget.

The youngest member of the trio, Matt, who was 13 at the time, started the unlikely streak with a hole-in-one on May 18 on Ridgeview's 151-yard No. 3 hole. He used a 5-iron.


"When Matt got his hole-in-one, the first thing he did was call me," Peter said. "He said, 'Dad, I think I got a hole-in-one.' I said, 'Are you sure?' He said, 'I'm pretty sure.' "

So Matt kept his dad on the line while he walked toward the hole. A few hoots and hollers later from Matt and his friends, and Peter had his answer.

He was proud of his son, sure. But he also felt a twinge of jealousy.

"I had been golfing there 41 years -- since I was 7 years old -- and my 14-year-old beats me to it," Peter said.

But he wouldn't have to wait much longer to finally record his first ace. It came on July 6 on the 170-yard No. 12 hole using a 7-iron.

Understandably, Ken felt left out of the family triumphs.

"He just had an eagle on (Ridgeview hole) No. 18 two days before (my hole-in-one), so he was angry that I stole his fire," said Matt, who is an eighth-grader at Woodland Middle School.

Not only did Matt steal Ken's fire, but he pocketed his nickname for a while.


"Kenny's nickname is 'ace,' and people started calling Matt 'ace,' " Peter said. "They were giving Kenny a lot of static."

As the summer wore on, it appeared that Ken's top golf moment would be his eagle from earlier in the season, but he believed he could complete the triple play with an ace of his own.

He even knew the hole -- No. 17.

"I kid you not; I dreamed I had a hole-in-one on that hole," said Ken, who was captain of the Duluth East boys hockey team last season and attends the University of Minnesota. "I know people don't believe me, but I did."

It took nearly all summer -- his second-to-last round, to be exact, before the "U" called him to fall studies -- but Ken's dream did come true.

On Aug. 26, he strolled up to Ridgeview's No. 17 hole with a 9-iron in his hand.

"It's one of the toughest holes on the course," Ken said. "You have to go over water to get there."

Ken swung his club and drove the ball to the green and watched it roll into the cup.


Peter happened to be on the course at the same time, as both golfers were taking part in the club's Thursday Men's League.

"We heard this rumbling going on and someone in my group said, 'Sounds like someone had a hole-in-one on 17,'" Peter said. "I said, 'I think Kenny's on 17.'"

A short while later his cell phone buzzed. Ken was waiting on the other end with news of the family's third ace of the summer.

"I was shocked ... it was sweet that all of us got our first hole-in-one on different holes," Ken said.

Next summer they'll all begin chasing their second holes-in-one and even taller odds. But don't try calculating those chances, or bet against them.

Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at or (218) 723-5317.

Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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