Miracle Triplets

Three holes-in-one on the same hole three days in a row—seriously
Robert Taylor of England plays a tee shot at the 189 yards par 3, 16th hole at Hunstanton Golf Club where he achieved a unique feat in golf when he holed in one on three consecutive days on May 31st, June 1st and June 2nd 1974 whilst playing for Leicestershire in the Eastern Counties Foursomes on June 28, 2016 in Hunstanton, Norfolk, England. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
Robert Taylor can try to replicate it, but we give him a one in a million chance repeating the feat. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

I’ve attended many famous athletic events in my career, but the two greatest sporting miracles I’ve ever witnessed happened in little Leicester, England. You may remember Leicester City’s impossible 2015-16 English Premier League championship run. (I’m talking about football, by which I mean I’m talking about soccer.) I doubt, however, that you know one Robert Taylor. 

In 1974, I was a member of the 10-man Leicestershire and Rutland County golf team heading to Hunstanton Golf Club in Norfolk for the Eastern Counties Foursomes. It was a fantastic, somewhat quirky annual gathering of nine counties played over a weekend.

Friday afternoon we headed out for a practice round. Late in the day, word spread that one of our teammates had rung up a hole-in-one on the 16th hole. Bob Taylor, after his three playing partners had “ballooned their 4-woods short,” played his 2-iron, which he bent to the loft of a 1-iron into the face of the stiff breeze. Naturally a great celebration followed, despite having 36 holes coming on each of the next two days.

In true local fashion, the wind changed completely on Saturday. In the morning session, Taylor nearly caused a riot on the 16th when his 6-iron shaved the hole and almost went in again. You can imagine the pandemonium when in the afternoon round Taylor took his 6-iron to the 16th and hit a nearly identical shot to the morning’s. Except this one actually went in.

The afternoon spun into the evening, all a whirl of congratulations and the fantastic realization that we had been part of the rarest of golf accomplishments. At the woozy, boozy dinner, one of our teammates wagered Taylor 1,000,000-to-1 on a penny that he would not repeat his feat for a third day in a row—a tidy £10,000 wager. After much derision from all around the table at the paltry penny wager, they shook hands on 25 pence at 1,000,000-to-1. I don’t imagine either of them lost any sleep that night over the potential of that bet ever having to be settled.

In the morning matches, a not-insignificant gallery gathered to witness history, but they were left wanting as Taylor’s shot sailed right of the green. Our man on the 1,000,000-to-1 bet was still breathing easily as we gathered for a quick lunch.

There was much on the line as Taylor’s match arrived at the 16th hole in the afternoon. A halve on the hole would win his team’s match against Suffolk. 

And there was the whole golf-history business as well. Taylor stood on the tee, facing that shot for the fifth time in 48 hours, with an even larger group of spectators waiting. 

The hole was once again 189 yards, once again downwind. As if it were now familiar with the route, the ball caromed off the apron, took a couple of bounces and dove back into the hole. Stunned silence at first, then the shouts and cheers and applause could probably be heard for miles around. The celebrations continued long into the night—three days, five shots and three aces on the same hole.

Taylor is still owed every bit of the £250,000 he won in that now-famous bet. His only treasure from the miraculous feat was a dozen Titleist golf balls from the president of the Cambridge Golf Union, some silver from his home club, Scraptoft, in Leicester and a wonderful stone memorial on the tee at Hunstanton.

But Taylor’s prizes will never equal the enduring gift he gave all of us: the greatest golf story we can ever tell.