OAKLAND (KPIX) — Before December 10th, Castro Valley’s Kevin Pon never imagined taking selfies with perfect strangers would be part of his routine when he goes to the golf course. In less than an hour at the driving range three different people approached him.
“They’ll ask, ‘Are you the guy that got the condor?’” Pon said of the countless new social interactions he’s navigated. “Yes I am,” he says.READ MORE: COVID Reopening: Santa Clara County Indoor Dining, Gyms Open For 1st Time Since December After Shift To Red Tier
Like a fish tale, Pon’s story has spread around Bay Area golf courses since management at Lake Chabot Golf Course posted on Facebook what many consider to be the impossible in the game. Four under par on one hole – fittingly called a condor.
“Most people don’t know what it is because it rarely happens,” Pon said.
He’s just the fifth golfer in recorded history to get a condor, and the first to do it on a par six like the 650 yard 18th hole at Chabot. Pon got his condor in two strokes on the monster downhill finishing hole. The other four condors occurred with an ace on a par five.
“The conditions were ideal that day,” Pon said of the warm December afternoon that enabled the fairway to allow maximum roll. How else does anyone explain a 550 yard drive? That’s over 200 yards longer than a bomb from Bryson DeChambeau, the heaviest hitter on the PGA Tour.
Nobody witnessed the ball land, but Pon assumes it got a once-in-lifetime bounce (maybe two) off the cart path that zig-zags down the fairway. He figured his ball was lost when he went looking in the area where it usually ends up.
“My friend told me there was a yellow ball at the very bottom of the fairway,” Pon recalled. “I’d never been down there.”
The blast left him with 100 yards back up the hill to the elevated green. After a solidly struck pitching wedge, the ball hopped twice and rolled in the cup.
“Luck and maybe some divine intervention,” Pon laughed. “Lightning struck me twice on one hole.”
Over the last few years Pon’s reintroduced himself to the game now that his kids are in high school. He carries a 10 handicap and generally scores in the high 70s to low 80s range.READ MORE: COVID: Swollen Lymph Nodes After Vaccination Could Lead To False Breast Cancer Diagnosis, UCSF Doctors Say
It’s almost cruel that Pon never actually witnessed the ball go in the hole, but fortunately for him, Chabot marshal Artie Yamashita happened to be in the right place at the right time.
“I congratulated him and asked what he was lying,” said Yamashita who never imagined he witnessed golf history. “When he told me one I nearly lost my mind because it makes a hole-in-one look very common place.”
According to the PGA of America, the odds of an average golfer getting an ace is 12,000-to-1. Most weekend hackers go their whole lives without getting one – including Pon.
An albatross (three under par on one hole) is even rarer at 6,000,000-to-1, and because a condor is so rare, no mathematician has even bothered to calculate those odds.
To put it into proper perspective, there are 60 times more endangered condors in the wild as there are on a golf course.
Pon says he deals with skeptics, but he understands why many are critical of his story.
“I wouldn’t believe me either,” he chuckled.
The yellow ball from that day is kept locked in a drawer at home, and Pon says he’s still figuring out a way to best commemorate the accomplishment. In the process he’s unlocked a little imagination at Chabot. The scruffy muni course in the Oakland Hills boasts the only par six hold west of the Mississippi.
Yamashita says he’s noticed more spectators at the 18th green than ever before. They often say they’re waiting for the next condor to happen.
They’re guaranteed to be waiting awhile.
“All of a sudden it’s become this amusement,” Yamashita said.MORE NEWS: Basketball Star Jeremy Lin Speaks Out About Attacks On Asian Americans, Racism On Court