The late John Wooden achieved almost incomprehensible basketball coaching feats during his glorious life, which sadly ended earlier this year at the age of 99.
But almost as rare as winning 10 national basketball championships and 88 games in a row with UCLA was a golf feat that Wooden has long been credited with, but was never indisputably verified.
That is, until his family started to clean out his Encino condo recently.
Wooden had long claimed that he once scored an ace and a double-eagle in the same golf round many, many years ago at a course in Indiana. As recently noted by Jill Painter of the L.A. DAILY NEWS, Golf Digest magazine has past reported that only four people have ever actually documented such a personal occurrence. Including pros.
Make it five.
Painter reports that Wooden’s daughter recently located the scorecard from Wooden’s landmark golf round:
One of the most meaningful came in a little box with a 1-cent stamp attached. It was the scorecard of Wooden’s historical round with a double eagle, also known as an albatross, and hole-in-one on June 26, 1939.
Wooden, the former UCLA basketball coach and avid sports enthusiast, died June 4 at 99.
Nan Muehlhausen, Wooden’s daughter, couldn’t remember exactly where she found the golf scorecard from the Erskine Park Golf Course in South Bend, Ind., but believes it was in his rolltop desk drawer.
“It was loaded with stuff,” Muehlhausen said.
“Daddy said he had it but he didn’t know where it was,” Muehlhausen said. “I said I’ll make a copy (when we find it) and send it to them. (My brother) Jim was offended. They wanted proof. He said, `If daddy said he did it, he did it.”‘
Wooden played with two partners on that Wednesday morning: Walt Kindy, a good friend and his assistant basketball coach at Central High of South Bend, and friend Burnett Ball. Six people signed the scorecard. Wooden’s name was listed as “John W.” on the scorecard line.
On the back nine, he scored a 6 on a par 6, then went bogey, par, bogey, par, par and double eagle - a 2 on a par 5 - before finishing with two more pars. He shot a 4-over 75.
Here’s how the article described his ace: “the ball landed to the right of the pin and bounced in the hole sideways.”
Interestingly, only nine months ago, Wooden told the L.A. TIMES that the round didn’t happen at Erskine Golf Club:
Although Golf Digest reports it as taking place at the Erskine Park Golf Course in South Bend, Ind., Wooden said Monday that it was at the Chain of Lakes course, now the South Bend Country Club.
“I used a four-iron for the hole in one,” Wooden said from his home in Encino. “It was about 185 yards. Then I made the two on the par five on the back. Used a brassie.”
A brassie was the rough equivalent of a two-wood.
Wooden said he kept the card and has it stored somewhere. He said he remembers the local paper running a little story the next day. He also retains his typical self-effacing humor about this feat.
“I shot a 77 that day,” he said. “You go five under on two holes and a 77 doesn’t look all that good.”
So at age 99, just months before his passing, Wooden was able to recall a round of golf that happened 71 years ago and virtually nail the facts.
That recall is every bit impressive as the feat itself.