by Jim Boyle
Most golfers can play the sport their entire life and never hit a hole in one.
Devin Bennington, a 12-year-old Elk River kid, did it on his third time out.
He hit it on the first night of his Go For the Green youth league on hole No. 6 on June 19 at Pinewood Golf Course in Elk River. Using a hybrid club, he saw the ball make its way toward the green on the 140-yard hole but lost sight of it.
His golfing buddy, however, saw it go in. Bennington scampered up to the green and peered into the hole and saw his ball in the cup.
“Ahh sweet!,” Bennington recalled saying aloud as he recounted the story with the Star News, a Pinewood staffer and another golfer who hit a hole in one while golfing on the same hole on Father’s Day with his family.
Bobby Simon, a 1990 graduate of Elk River High School, hit one in from the same tee box on June 17. Asked if it was his first hole in one? “Oh yeah.”
Simon, who grew up in Elk River and now resides in Monticello, learned the game when he was 15 and 16. He continues to play as much as he can for the fun of it and in an effort to grow his own small business.
“I’m in a lot of Chambers of Commerce, and I try to get out (for the tournaments) and as much as I can,” he said. “In a perfect world, I would get out once a week.”
There were 173 rounds of golf played on Father’s Day 2012 at Pinewood. Simon, of course, was the only one to hit a hole in one that day.
There are about 12,000 rounds a year played at the municipal course and there are usually only two holes in one a year. There have been as many as six in a year, said Golf Course Superintendent Paul Anderson.
“I’m 35 years old and I have been golfing since the age of 5 and I have never hit one,” Anderson said. “It has been said that you’re more likely to win the Powerball.”
Bennington, meanwhile, is keeping his hole in one shot in perspective.
“I’m just going for the green when I golf,” he said.
Simon’s Father’s Day shot with an 8-iron on hole No. 6 went about two feet beyond the hole and then rolled back into the hole. He saw it go in.
“It was euphoria,” he said. “This is something you strive for, but all you can do is go for the green.”
Bennington plans to finish out his Go For the Green league at Pinewood, though he will miss one week when he travels north to Camp Many Point as a Boy Scout.
Pinewood has 236 youth in its summertime program this year. Those that sign up for one of the three levels of Go for the Green play a round of golf on Tuesdays or Thursdays while getting lessons and advice from several staff instructors.
“This has been a big year for Devin,” said Roxane Bennington, his mother. “He has become a Star Scout and is now working on becoming a Life Scout, and he was recently accepted into Spectrum Charter School.”
Bennington plans to continue golfing for many years to come, and he even likes to watch the sport when professional golfers take to some of the more challenging courses in the world. He hopes to entice more kids his age to play the sport, but he knows not all of them will get into the sport.
“I think it’s fun,” he said.
So does Simon.
The two golfers will be forever connected on a plaque that hangs in the Pinewood clubhouse.
Two others have hit a hole in one this year
Simon and Bennington are two of four golfers to hit a hole in one at Pinewood this season.
The other golfers are Clyde Friez and Parker Reddig. They both were on hole No. 4 when they aced it.