Smylie Kaufman talks Rickie Fowler’s ace, playing Pine Valley

Having the chance to play a round at Pine Valley is a dream for every golfer. But making an ace on the world’s top-rated course while you’re there? That launches the experience straight into the bucket-list stratosphere.

That’s exactly what happened to Rickie Fowler on a recent visit to the course, and PGA Tour pro-turned-broadcaster Smylie Kaufman was there to witness it. What was that like? Kaufman dished on the experience to Subpar hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz on this week’s episode.

Smylie Kaufman walks on the course during The Sentry.
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“I get to the third tee, I’m like, I have got to find something,” Kaufman said. “And then Justin [Thomas] is off to a nice start. And he’s like, well, you’re gonna need to get your phones out because I’m about to make a hole-in-one. I’m like, sweet. At least I’ll be at Pine Valley watching them make an ace. And he hits this beautiful 7-iron, and just kind of hits this, just softer one, comes up like eight yards short, right on line in the bunker. And he was like, sick, good shot.

“And then Rickie gets up and hits this majestic, high, five-yard draw 7-iron, and it lands — because it’s a front-left pin, which is actually a really hard hole-in-one, and lands exactly where it should, and for the last 10 feet it felt like a year, because it looked like it was just gonna go in the whole way. Goes in, and we all go nuts.”

Kaufman has been struggling with his game on the opening holes that day and laughed as he recalled how he had to hit after Fowler’s ace.

“Of course, I got to hit next, and Bambi is over there 30 yards right of the green, and, about take Bambi and his mother out,” he said. “It was just a tough scene over there.”

Kaufman said that after playing the course, he understood why it has a stranglehold on the ranking’s top spot.

“I was always hesitant — why is Pine Valley rated No. 1 and everything?” Kaufman said. “And I get it. It is one of the coolest layouts I’ve ever played. Just the thought behind every single hole. It’s so challenging and it just tests every part of your game. And I’ll tell you what you got to do out there. You need to hit it in the fairway.”

For more from Kaufman, check out the full Subpar episode below.

Golf.com Editor

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.