Recent Lockdown Diaries guest Brandon Stone was not let off the hook as we once again brought up his failed Chase the Ace session at the Gary Player Country Club, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
WATCH IT AGAIN: Brandon Stone vs Hole-in-One challenge
‘That was the worst day of golf I’ve ever had in my entire life,’ he told Compleat Golfer.
‘It was without a doubt the most frustrating 9½ hours I’ve ever had in my existence. It was just horrible. We got to the Gary Player the day before, met up with the team from European Tour Productions and we chatted, and they are like, “Do you think you’re going to get it [hole in one]?” and I’m like, “Yes, this is what I do for a living.”
‘So, the next morning, I’m like, oh, cool, are we going to start about 7:30am, perfect. So, I got up early, to do my stretches, whatever the case may be.
‘We hit the first ball at just after 7:30am and I was still thinking, “You know, if I can get one by about 11, I can probably be home by one and have lunch with the Mrs and you know, meet up with the family – perfect.” I remember so clearly that after about 45 minutes, I was like,”Ooh, this could last a day” … the reason being the Gary Player is notorious for a swirling wind, and ever-changing conditions, and when we started early in the morning I was actually hitting a three-quarter 7-iron, and when it got to just before lunchtime I was hitting a 9-iron. That’s how much the conditions were changing.
‘We got to lunch at 12:30pm, so I’ve been hitting balls for five hours non-stop. Non-stop. And I refused, and we went for lunch, we went up to the Sun Village there, got a burger and some carbs and stuff, and then I could see the entire production crew were looking at me like, “Mate, you need to get this done now. We’ve got other stuff we need to do.”
‘I was like, “Boys, I’m trying my hardest here. I’m absolutely giving it my all.”
‘After lunch, at about half-past one, we went back there, so I mean we had a five-hour session, and sunset was forecast for six; it was going to be 9½ hours of just hitting balls.
‘And I mean, I tried everything. I tried cleaning my club, I tried leaving it dirty. I tried teeing up the ball, I tried hitting it with the turf. I tried hitting it with a fade, I tried hitting it with a draw. I tried hitting it higher, I tried hitting it lower. I tried absolutely everything, and it just wasn’t working. And when we got to the end of the day, and it got so bad that I was struggling to peg the ball up because of the pain, I had bruised the inside of my fingers, and it was purple. So eventually, I just started hitting it, it was just too painful. And they said to me, “OK mate, this the last ball, this is No 500.” This is it. I was like, “Oh, my God. OK, full focus, let’s go, boys.” I hit an absolute gem. I think it pitched about six feet short and rolled past the hole like a foot.
‘That was the most defeated I’ve ever felt in my entire life: not missing a cut at a Major, not missing a putt to win a tournament. Nothing. That was the most defeated that I have ever felt. It was something that I never thought I wouldn’t achieve, and just to stand there for 9½ hours hitting golf balls and not one of them go in was just heartbreaking.
‘And then I still remember so clearly … I was flying to, I think, I was flying to Turkey for the Turkish Airlines the next day, so I got in the car and drove back home. I couldn’t straighten my arm! I couldn’t straighten my hand like this because, obviously, from setting the club the whole time. I was driving like this because my arms were so sore.
‘I remember getting home and my wife, Anette, said, “What took you so long?” And I just said, “Babes, I can’t, just give me a moment here.” I went, had a shower, went and chilled, and she’s obviously seen that face many a time: Brandon just needs to go and sit by himself for a little bit. And yeah, that’s the story.
‘It was 9½ hours of agonizing mental warfare at which I failed. But then, a few minutes later, the man, the myth, the legend that is Andy Sullivan managed to provide us all with some relief. I mean, I can remember when I watched that video for the first time, I think we were in Woolworths, I actually screamed, and my wife turned around and looked at me like, “What are you doing?” I was like, “Sully did it, Sully got one!”
‘I remember I sent a message straight away, “Thank you so much, I can actually sleep soundly now.”
‘That’s the thing about Sully, he’ll always get it done. I just want to say that it’s a '!xm fantastic piece for the European Tour to put together because I mean, we all think – I’ve had six holes-in-one; I’ve met people that have had 30 or 40 – so you always kind of think you could do it.
‘I mean, what can I equate it to? It’s like giving Handre Pollard a ball at 60 yards, or like 10 yards into his own half, and saying, “OK, cool, you’ve got 500 kicks to hit one.” I mean, probably not from an exact statistics point of view, but that’s kind of the same, or a crossbar challenge from the halfway line with a football player.
‘I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of pros on the European Tour and the PGA Tour who haven’t even had one yet. So, without downplaying it, it’s just luck. I’m now 100% under the impression that aces are luck. I mean, I remember, remember Louis’ richochet ace at Augusta?
‘And his one from the SA Open. I was watching that. I mean, we actually gave Wynand, his caddie, a little bit of stick after the round because we were like, “Mate, come on, you boys pushed that.” He’s like, “No, he said he was going to start it at the flag, he’s going to draw it up against the breeze”, and we were just like, “Come now …”
‘Like I said, 100% convinced that holes-in-one are luck.’