OAKLAND, Calif. - In the game of golf, a hole-in-one is rare. But an East Bay man accomplished an even more rare feat recently on the links.
If a picture of Kevin Pon at the 18th hole of the Lake Chabot Golf Club with ball-in-hand is worth a thousand words, then this golf shot can do it with just one: Condor.
"It was a miracle. The way I look at it, luck," said Pon, 54, from Castro Valley.
In December, the amateur golfer rushed to squeeze in his weekly round at Lake Chabot Golf Course, unaware he was about to accomplish the rarest of golfing feats.
In the final month of an unbelievable year, the inexplicable happened. The 18th hole is a Par-6, 649 yard shot. Pon, dressed down in jeans and a polo, hit his first shot more than 500 yards.
"I used a bazooka!," replied Pon with laughter, when asked which club he used to hit such a long first shot.
In truth, his driver club did the damage, with help from several large bounces on the cart path. His second shot was now a little more than 100 yards from the flag, which in itself is an incredible feat.
"There’s a lot of skill involved. There’s a lot that has gone right. Now certainly luck plays a part, but you’ve got to do a lot of things right to be lucky," said amateur golfer Maurice McCord.
Pon’s golfing acumen got better with the second shot. Using his pitching wedge – one swing, up a large, steep, hill and into the bottom of the cup.
"My friend was like, ‘Did it go in?’ and I said, 'I don’t know, let’s drive up.' So we drove up, and the guy was like, ‘Look in the hole!,’" said Pon.
Lake Chabot has the only par-6 hole west of the Mississippi. To make that shot in two shots isn’t a triple eagle or an albatross. It’s called a condor. And It’s the rarest shot in golf.
"There’s odds for an eagle. There are odds for an albatross. For a condor, there are no odds for it because it’s just so rare," said Jerry Stewart of the Northern California Golf Association.
The feat garnered attention from other players, and was certified by the course marshal.
"When it happened, I knew this was a once in a lifetime witnessing. I would never see this again. And I came to find out this has never happened in the United States," said Arthur Tamashita, the Lake Chabot Golf Course marshal.
Pon says he’s improved since he started playing the game in high school, but isn’t setting his sights on a hole-in-one. For now, he’s content being in the history books -- a portrait of an unusual day, in an unusual year.
"It was just a lucky day. That’s how I see it," he said. "It’s been a weird year, right?!"
Correction: An earlier version of the article misstated Pon's age and the city where he lives. He is 54 and resides in Castro Valley.