SARASOTA — James Moran was playing a round of golf with his wife, Joan, and only Joan, when the incredible/astounding/phenomenal/miraculous/astonishing happened.
Even if the six-month Sarasota residents, as well as husband and wife of 11 years, had had a couple of playing partners, chances are they wouldn’t have believed what they witnessed.
Earlier this month, James and Joan were at Duke University to have doctors there examine James’ problematic back. A golfer since 12, James first met Joan at the Orlando International Airport, and once the couple got married, Joan fell in love with the sport.
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“She became a fanatic about it,” said the 74-year-old James Moran, a former attorney. “She’s pretty good. She’s got a lot of natural talent.”
The two play golf every day “that’s nice,” James said. In Sarasota, they’re members of Laurel Oak Country Club. At the couple’s home in Asheville, NC, it’s the Country Club of Asheville.
But after leaving Duke, James and Joan stopped off at the Country Club at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, NC, for a quick round. Their scores were tight when they stepped to the 130-yard, par-3 11th hole. Grabbing his 8-iron, James went first, hitting a beautiful shot straight at the pin.
“As soon as I hit it,” he said. “I knew I had hit a really good shot.” James was able to follow the shot as it progressed from really good to outstanding to it-doesn’t-get-any-better. The hole-in-one was the third of his career.
“I got to tell you,” James said, “I don’t react. But she was screaming and jumping up and down and everything else.”
Since the two started playing golf together, they each recorded two holes-in-one. This one put James up 3-2.
“That lead lasted for about 30 seconds,” he said. Because that’s how long it took Joan to grab her 7 hybrid, strike a shot similar in look to her husband’s, and with the exact same result.
“My reaction was,” James said, “that that was probably the first time in history that was done. A husband and wife getting holes-in-one on the same hole. It’s gotta be, if you think about it, it’s gotta be in the billions.”
According to the National Hole-in-One Association, the odds of two players in a foursome hitting consecutive aces are 26 million-to-1. But for a husband and wife to pull it off, the odds would be “astronomical” the Association said.
After having their pictures taken and receiving a bottle of champagne from the Club, James and Joan left, but it wasn’t long before James started calling local and national media, including Golfweek, trying to get his story out.
No one wanted to hear it. And although James believed the odds would have to be in the billions, research told him that four married couples since 2015 had recorded back-to-back aces.
But he knows who should get a majority of the credit.
“It’s not like this should be 50-50 credit,” he said. “(Joan) should get 99 percent of the credit for making this as remarkable as it is. If I had made the hole-in-one and she didn’t, you wouldn’t be talking to me about a hole-in-one.
“So it was the second one that was spectacular.”
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Married Sarasota couple hit back-to-back holes-in-one on same hole