FORMER Yorkshire captain Roger Mitchell did not know he would be taking a step back in time when he accepted a late invitation to play in a Texas Scramble event at his home club Keighley.
But at the eighth hole he recorded a hole in one – 55 years after he had scored the first ace of an illustrious career that saw him play 169 times for the county.
Seventy-three-year-old Mitchell normally restricts himself to one round a week, on Saturdays, but answered an SOS call to make up a three-ball alongside Jackie Starkie and Janet Vorster after their partner’s withdrawal.
All three will be glad he did for Mitchell’s hole in one was the highlight of their round as they shot a gross 66, net 60.4, to win the event by three shots.
“Jackie’s rangefinder said it was 97 yards,” says Mitchell, who thinks the ace was his ninth, although he is not certain. “I used a gap wedge.
“We were playing off the winter tee and the eighth is where I got my first hole in one – also off the winter tee.”
Although the former scratch player’s memory is hazy with regard to the number of aces he has accumulated, of one thing he is certain: that none of the shots required anything longer than a seven iron.
“I started playing golf 63 years ago and I can’t remember exactly how many holes in one I have had. I would guess I have had nine, but that is an estimate,” he says.
“It is not a lot for 63 years, and mine have all been on very short holes. In fact, I have never holed what I would call a long shot.
“I have holed out in two at the ninth at Keighley, which I think was with nine iron, and I’ve holed out with a pitching wedge at the 12th.
“But other than that they have all been eight, nine, pitching wedges, stuff like that for my holes in ones.
“I used to play a lot of golf with Michael Kelley, of Ganton, and Michael holed in one every single year at least once for about 10 or 12 years.”
Keighley’s professional Andy Rhodes said: “Roger is a past Yorkshire champion and has a wealth of experience and sound advice and still plays off 11.
“Although he is not a frequent visitor to the winner’s circle, Roger is a valued ambassador for the club.”
Mitchell remains somewhat bemused by the fact that he has never holed a long tee or approach shot in a career that also saw him win the Yorkshire Open and 89 of the matches he played in county colours.
“I have played with players of all sorts of handicaps and I’ve seen shots holed from everywhere – some with three woods,” he reflects, “and it’s amazing how it happens, but it has never happened to me. I have even seen people hit walls with shots and the ball went into the hole.
“The trouble is, if I holed a three wood nowadays it would probably go only about as far as my sand wedge that I holed for my hole in one 55 years ago.”