Most golfers hope to hit one hole-in-one during their lifetime.
Jackie Minton of Pasco has had three, hitting her latest June 9 at Sun Willows Golf Course — a week before her 87th birthday.
“That was a nice birthday present,” Minton said. “I didn’t start golfing until I was a grandma, and now I’m a great-grandma. I hit my first hole-in-one in Arizona. It was prior to 2000, on a par-3, 149-yard hole. My second was at (Pasco) Golfland. Oh gosh, it’s been years — before 2006, I believe. It was 76 yards with a pitching wedge.”
The odds of an amateur golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to 1, while a pro’s are 2,500 to 1, according to Golf Digest.
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Minton starting playing golf in 1974, when her husband, Art, decided he was going to take up the sport. She learned to play at Columbia Park, and later joined the ladies league at Sun Willows.
“I got to golf more than he did because he was still working,” said Minton, who was a secretary for the Benton Fire District at the time. “I did it for recreation and a good time. He was a perfectionist. It frustrated him to death. I even bought him a book that said it wasn’t a perfect game, but it didn’t make a difference.”
I didn’t start golfing until I was a grandma, and now I’m a great-grandma.
For more than 40 years, Minton has teed off on courses all over the Western states. She and Art moved from the Tri-Cities to Anchorage in 1978, then to the Seattle area in 1981.
“You don’t get to play much in Alaska,” Minton said. “Their golf season is June to August. I hated golfing in Seattle. It was always rainy and wet.”
The Mintons moved from Seattle to Port Angeles in 1988, and to Walla Walla in 1992, where she found a home at the Walla Walla Country Club.
They moved back to the Tri-Cities in 1997, and Art died in 2006. He and Jackie were married almost 60 years.
Minton now calls Sun Willows home. She has a house on the eighth green.
She golfs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She goes dancing at the Pasco Eagles on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, and the third Friday of the month at the Richland Community Center. She also volunteers at the Lourdes Medical Center gift shop from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays.
“I can’t be dragging my feet now,” she said.
She’s a regular in the Sun Willows Ladies League, and is playing in their President’s Cup. She won her match Thursday and moved on to the next round.
12,500 to 1 Odds of amateur golfer making a hole-in-one, according to Golf Digest
“It’s all match play,” she said, explaining the formula. “A couple of years ago, I was the oldest player, playing the youngest. I’ve been runner-up a couple of times, but I’ve never won. I’m going to try again.”
While 18 holes is quite the trek for anyone, Minton gets into her red golf cart, complete with an American flag, saving her energy for driving and putting.
“I had to quit walking,” she said. “I’ve had two hips replaced, one knee, and I have a pacemaker.”
In her not-so-distant younger years, Minton used to play invitationals at area courses. They take a bit more out of her these days.
“I used to do a lot of them, but after I had my hip done, I haven’t done a lot,” she said. “I really enjoyed them, but I am perfectly content to play here.”
So the Sun Willows Ladies League it is.
She’s the oldest member of the group, though you wouldn’t know it.
“Most are younger than I am,” Minton said. “My best friend (Carol Beniasch) is six months younger than I am, and she reminds me. She’s had some health issues so she’s just playing nine holes. I am the oldest hanging in there right now. Carol, Ann Dickey and Carol’s son Keith (Beniasch) were with me when I hit my hole-in-one. That was special.”
Minton’s handicap is 23, and her goal every time out is to shoot under 100.
“It’s not really about the golf,” she said. “The conversation after the round is the fun part. We aren’t doing this to make a living. We are doing it to be social.”