Bill Flynn’s habit of making hole-in-ones has his bar tab at Shady Oaks Country Club serving as the perfect history marker for a changing economy.
He’s also avoiding the mailman as his latest ace not only capped a rare feat that began more than 40 years ago, but put him on the hook for the traditional “reward.”
“I haven’t even opened my bill yet and I don’t want to look at it,” the 71-year-old said.
Golf’s rarest moment is seized in a matter of seconds, but that leads to hours of celebration, courtesy of the shot maker.
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In Flynn’s case, a 5-wood from 168 yards on the fifth hole capped the final piece needed to cement his mastery of all four of Shady Oaks’ par 3s.
He has seven aces in his playing career.
Only two other members have accomplished aces on all four par 3s in the club’s history, but not even its most celebrated member, Ben Hogan, could make that claim.
“It’s so rare and it’s just fitting for a player like Bill,” Shady Oaks professional Mike Wright said. “Aces are just part of the game that have no real reasoning. In some cases, it’s players that play a lot like Bill, but in other cases, the player might be a 20-handicap and play rarely.”
It was a chilly day in North Texas on Feb. 16, when Flynn stepped to the tee on what he called his career nemesis hole and walked away with a 1 on his scorecard.
According to Flynn, he’s come close so many times to an ace on No. 5 that perhaps it was going to elude him.
The feat of recording aces on each of the par 3s didn’t come until much later, but the march started in 1972.
Flynn said he remembers that first ace, a 6-iron on the seventh hole, as well as any of the others because it was the only one that he didn’t hit square on the face.
“It was a nice shot,” he said. “But not only did I not strike it well, the fifth was way more severe back then and when it hit the green it just disappeared behind the bunker. We didn’t know it went in until we got all the way up to the green.”
Flynn would knock in two more on the par-3 16th in relative short time span.
In 1989, he knocked in a pitching wedge from 117 yards. In 1992, he dropped a 9-iron from the same yardage.
Things didn’t really heat up until seven years later when, in 1999, Flynn flushed a 7-wood on the 12th hole that took off on a perfect trajectory toward the flag stick.
As it landed, the ball kicked just a bit left and it rolled in to tease Flynn just a bit more.
“From there, I put so much pressure on myself,” he said. “Every time I got on that fifth tee, it was about hitting a perfect shot and wondering if this would be the time.”
As the years wore on, Flynn was challenged numerous times about his career aces.
As if to confirm not only the history, but the obsession with knocking in that final one on No. 5, Flynn carries in his wallet clippings from the Star-Telegram and other newspapers chronicling each of his aces.
Finally the day arrived, as his 5-wood approach took off into the North Texas wind. The ball cleared the bunker fronting the seventh hole by about five feet and Flynn and the other players in his group saw it roll at the hole.
“When you hit shots like that, time seems to kind of slow down,” Flynn said. “The other guys started hollering for it to go in and I screamed at them to shut up because I didn’t want them to jinx it.”
The ball fell in the hole to complete the accomplishment.
With Flynn’s banking of additional hole-in-ones over the course of his career, he’s been approached with the idea of completing a second Flynn Slam.
“You know, I’m happy,” he said. “I finally did it and I’m just happy with that. I am going to keep playing, so you never know.”