Fifteen-year-old Haley Palmer didn't see her beat-up yellow ball drop for a hole-in-one after she hit it from the sixth tee at Westfield Golf and Country Club last weekend, but four men playing 11 holes in front of her made it clear something big had just happened.
"The people on hole 17 were cheering, but I thought it was just for them," Palmer recounted this week.
"I got up there and they said they thought I got a hole-in-one. So we went to look for the ball and couldn't find it and I went to look in the hole and it was there."
Palmer is an athlete but is open about not being especially fond of golf.
She is the only one in her family not a member of the golf club and has been convinced to play just twice this year. She was reluctantly on the course last Saturday in an annual outing of relatives her father Jim organizes and calls the Palmer Cup.
Haley said she made an early effort to quit but was talked out of it by some encouraging words from her mother and eventually made her way around to the par three sixth hole where she grabbed a club from her brother who had just teed off and took a swing herself.
It's not that hard. I just went up and hit it. It's pretty easy. - Haley Palmer
She's not entirely sure what the fuss is about over what happened next.
"It's not that hard. I just went up and hit it. It's pretty easy," she said.
But for the four men standing on the adjacent 17th green, who know personally how frustratingly rare a hole-in-one can be, Haley's shot was something to celebrate on the spot.
"It was pretty cool," said Warren Lingley, one of the four who were putting on the 17th green when Haley's ball hit the flag on the nearby sixth hole and dropped in.
"It was awesome to see her get a hole in one like that. Some people play their whole life and don't get one."
It was also where she got it, that made an impression.
A 'diabolical' hole
Number six is the shortest par three on the course at 155 yards, but it's the only one that plays significantly uphill, a design feature avoided by many modern golf course architects in part because it can hide hole-in-ones from the tee.
Don Myles, who joined Westfield in 1953 and was one of New Brunswick's leading amateur players in the late 1960s and early 1970s, said the sixth hole was part of an original nine designed by World Golf Hall of Fame architect Donald Ross and has been in play since 1931.
More than one million shots have been launched from the sixth tee over the decades, including dozens from leading Canadian Hall of Fame players like Moe Norman, Dave Barr, Bob Panasik, Gary Cowan and Dan Hallderson when pro tournaments were staged at Westfield, but aces there are infrequent.
Myles said he had one on the hole in the early 2000s after being shut out the first 48 years he played it.
Lingley, who has had a single lifetime ace but on a different hole, estimated he has hit more than 2,500 tee shots of his own on the sixth, none dropping like Haley Palmer's did.
"Number six is tough. It's not the easiest of shots going up the hill and if you miss a little right or left, you're in a trap. I've taken a nine and a 10 on that hole so it's not the easiest of holes if you hit a bad shot," said Lingley.
Bob Keeffe, who was playing with Lingley and also saw Palmer find her ball at the bottom of the flagstick, said he has played at Westfield for 60 years and none of his three holes-in-one happened at the sixth.
"I've hit the pin. I stopped once about an inch from the hole but never jarred it there," said Keeffe, who guessed he has played it 3,000 or more times.
"That hole can be diabolical. It can derail a round pretty easily."
Steve LeBlanc, Westfield's teaching professional, said Palmer's hole-in-one on the sixth is a definite achievement.
"I've played that hole over 1,000 times and have never aced it," LeBlanc said. "Many golfers go their whole life playing 100 rounds a year during 20 years of retirement and never get one. It was her day. A day all golfers hope to have at least once."
'I don't care that much'
Palmer has accepted the well wishes and congratulations graciously but acknowledged, "I don't like attention," and will be happy when the memory of her accomplishment fades a bit.
Word of what she had done got back to the clubhouse before she did and she was greeted by a throng wanting to know details and salute the achievement. The club presented her with a dozen golf balls which she has no immediate plans to use and she could only roll her eyes when her feat was announced publicly at school.
"It's exciting," she said. "But I don't care that much."