‘I’m gonna make this’: Actor Michael Pena describes how he called his ace at the Bob Hope Desert Classic

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.

Actor Michael Pena hits a golf shot
How an unusual driving range target gave this Hollywood star the golf bug
By: Jessica Marksbury

“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.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.