For most golfers, making an ace is a bucket-list achievement. Doing it during a pro-am with a gallery? Even better. But what about dunking a coveted hole-in-one on television, after calling the shot? The odds on that must be astronomical, but that’s exactly what actor Michael Pena managed to do at the 2009 Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Pena, an avid golfer and PGA Tour fan, appeared on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, and reminisced about the experience that transpired over a decade ago.
“When I played the Bob Hope, the thing that they didn’t show — I’m not used to having someone tape me while I’m swinging,” Pena began. “The guy looked like he was way too close, like my club was gonna hit him. This guy — just decided he had too much confidence in me. I don’t know what this guy’s problem was.
“But anyway, he was really close,” Pena continued. “And on the first par 3, the first time that the camera was ever on me, I literally — I hit it so fat that the divot slowly went over the ball. As I’m lowering [my club] and then I look back, he’s ghost. He’s gone, probably because of the shame.”
Luckily for Pena, he had another chance to make an impression — and he wasn’t about to let this one go the same way.
“The following shot, I don’t know what got into me, but I said, ‘I’m gonna make this.’ I have no idea — it was one of those weird experiences,” Pena said. “And then it went in, and I couldn’t believe it.”
Pena played with Robert Gamez and Dan Quayle that day.
“Instead of going straight to the green, I went outside with the gallery, high-fives. And they were looking for me: ‘Mike, we need you to get the ball out of the hole!'” Pena laughed. “It was just a blast, man. I couldn’t believe it. It was really cool.”
For more from Pena, including how an unusual driving-range target gave him the golf bug, and why Harmon thinks so many recreational players struggle from the bunker (and how to fix it), check out the full interview below.