Billy Speer of Redding made history at Del Norte Golf Course on Sunday morning, at the tournament named after his late father, on the hole where his late grandfather’s ashes were spread.
Billy Speer of Redding aced the 7th hole at Del Norte Golf Course — a 340-yard par-4 — during the Bill Speer Memorial Sweepstakes, a tournament named after Speer’s late father. Courtesy of Will Ramsdell
Speer won the Bill Speer Memorial Sweepstakes individual championship by gross score, with a two-day stroke total of 136 (6-under par). Billy Speer beat James Haban (139, 3-under) and Calvin Maready (140, 2-under) to claim top honors.
All that was overshadowed by the first hole-in-one of Speer’s life — on the 340-yard, par-4 seventh hole.
“It’s just so weird,” Speer said. “Who’d have thought my first hole-in-one comes on a par-4?”
It is the first hole-in-one ever hit on the seventh hole at Del Norte Golf Course, and the first hole-in -one on any hole there in at least a year.
According to the National Hole-In-One Association, the odds of a golfer hitting a hole-in-one in his or her lifetime are 12,500 to 1. The odds of a hole-in-one on a par-4 — an albatross, or a double-eagle, in golf parlance — are much longer, thought to be somewhere between 1 million to 1 and 6 million to 1.
The seventh hole at Del Norte Golf Course is uphill and doglegs left, playing at times longer than its stated 340 yards. The pin placement Sunday was right-center of the green, on a downhill slope.
Speer used a driver and attempted a draw shot over the trees at the dogleg.
“I knew I hit a good one, but because you can’t see the hole (from the tee box), it’s hard to tell,” Speer said.
Jack Geib of Crescent City, acting as a spotter for the tournament, was the lone eyewitness to Speer’s shot falling into the cup. Amanda Plunkett, a beverage cart operator at Del Norte Golf Course, was also present but had her back turned as the shot went in the hole.
“I saw the ball land 10 feet on the green,” Geib said. “It bounced twice and just kept rolling down the hill, just like he was making a putt.
“I’ve never seen nothing like that in my whole life.”
Speer and the rest of his foursome — Will Ramsdell, Stetson Olsen and Nate Adkins, all of Redding — couldn’t locate the ball on the green. Plunkett told the golfers, “You should check the hole.”
They did. They found the ball, and they cheered loud enough for the entire golf course to hear.
“It’s a one-in-a-million kind of shot,” Speer said.
Speer is the son of William “Bill” Walter Speer III and the grandson of William Walter Speer II, two of the original founders and owners of Del Norte Golf Course. Billy Speer, 33, was born and raised in Redding but has a deep connection to Del Norte County through the golf course and members of the golfing community.
“There’s something in the air,” Speer said, reflecting on the shot’s significance.
In the individual net championship, George Lincoln (127, 15-under) defeated Les Mims (129, 13-under) and Tomas Garcia (130, 12-under) to win the title.
The foursome of Scott Lewis, Barry Mortimeyer, Jeff Lincoln and Marty Henning won the Sweepstakes with a combined three-day net stroke total of 177 (36-under). Dan Landis, Joby Rumiano, Alan Adkins and Mark Lincoln were second (191, 22-under); Derrick Friebel, Israel Chavez, Gil Rodriguez and Bob Leonard finished third (195, 18-under).