Too Easy Mate Australia hole in one Ross Jones

Too Easy, Mate

Ross Jones reveals his simple secret as he closes in on 100 holes-in-one

It’s a Thursday afternoon. Twenty-five Aussie dollars for 18 holes, greens fees paid at the bar. The holes range from 45 to 90 yards, for a grand total of 1,100. Only three clubs needed: a 54-degree wedge, a 60 (if you’re any good), and a trusted flat stick. The sun begins to retire over the course as stadium LEDs pick up the slack, lighting up Sydney’s only day/night golf course. Music plays, beer cans crack, clubs swoosh. Birdies are chased by cheers. Bogeys (and worse) are countered with groans and howls of laughter. This is the soundtrack at Shortees Golf Club in Terrey Hills, a suburb behind Sydney’s Northern Beaches on the Aussie East Coast.

Ross Jones knows this symphony well. In fact, the retired tennis coach has made plenty of noise here himself. He’s been playing Shortees since the gates opened, back in 2000. He was 64 years old then, with three aces on regulation courses already under his belt. Twenty-three years and 87 Shortees holes-in-one later, Jones, now 87, is hunting for 100. “Getting on the green at Shortees is one thing, but getting a hole-in-one is pure luck,” he chuckles with a little too much humility. “I’ve holed out on every hole at least once. It’s ridiculous.”

Too Easy Mate Australia hole in one Ross Jones

Some might say he’s right to play things down a bit. After all, Shortees is a pitch ’n’ putt. Some might even call it a novelty course. There has been plenty of online and clubhouse debate about this subject over the years, but even the most ardent hole-in-one purists would shake their head at 87 1s. Consider this: Shortees superintendent Paul Watts laid the course’s first grass and still maintains the facility today. He plays off a 5 handicap and has spent more time on the course than perhaps anyone. He has a grand total of two holes-in-one. “It’s challenging terrain that will test the very best short-game specialist,” Watts says. “I know a lot of pro golfers who have spent plenty of time up here and not bagged a single ace.”

Jones can still recall many of his single-swing exploits, and one would be forgiven for thinking the slam dunk he had on No. 5 a few years back would be at the top of his list. “That was an interesting one,” he says with a widening grin, “but not my favorite. The best was on the seventh. It’s the shortest hole, but probably the most difficult because it’s so narrow. The pin was right at the front, and somehow I got the thing up in there. There wasn’t anyone behind us, and we were just mucking about, so I dropped another ball and did it again. Two in a row.”

Too Easy Mate Australia hole in one Ross Jones

Jones meets here with his crew every Thursday. Today there’s Jan, John and Renny. They all speak fondly about their mate, his tally and their time together on the course. There’s plenty of trash talk, but always in good spirit. They don’t take their time at Shortees for granted anymore.

“About five years ago, I was playing with the boys and on the ninth I couldn’t see the ball, so it seems I had a stroke,” Jones says. “They got me in an ambulance and off to hospital. Saved my life, really. It knocked me around a bit, but I’ve recovered and everything’s still fairly good.”

Jones still gets around the course in about 6 over, but these days it’s playing a little longer and his ace total has slowed. “I haven’t had one for a couple of years,” he says. “With a few health issues, it gets a little more difficult, but we’re still up here competing, still hoping. I’m really trying to get there.”

Chris Searl, one of the owners at Shortees, is on hand as Jones and his boys make their way to the first tee. “I’ve promised them a lock-in with full access to the bar and no curfew if Ross gets his 100th,” he says with a smirk. “And he’ll get a lifetime membership.”

As Jones steps up, Searl asks for the secret behind all the aces. Jones, without breaking stride, gives him the goods: “It’s too easy: Aim at the hole and hit the thing!”

Too Easy Mate Australia hole in one Ross Jones