It is the ultimate thrill in golf to record a hole in one.
A couple weeks ago, 19-year-old Noah Darling did it on the BraeBen course near my home in the west end of Toronto.
But a bit of background first. Noah’s father, Joel, is someone I have known for some 40 years. He is the Executive Producer of National Hockey League Special Events for Rogers Sportsnet, one of the two sports networks in Canada, and the Executive Producer of CBC Sports, which broadcasts Olympic sports and some NHL games. Joel’s late father, Ted, was a long time play-by-play voice of the Buffalo Sabres.
I found out about the ace on Twitter after Joel posted the news.
“Amazing feat,” Joel Tweeted. “Will never let his Dad forget it.”
I immediately reached out to Joel to do an interview with Noah before the Canadian media jumped on the story. He said I could do it but I had to note Noah was using a TaylorMade ball so the manufacturer would take notice.
Noah told me he has a nine handicap and has been golfing since he was “a little kid.” He started to take it seriously during the summer of 2020 when he got a membership to his father’s club and played three to four times a week. He also works in the back shop at Glen Abbey, one of Canada’s pre-eminent clubs and which has played host to the Canadian Open many times.
Okay, now prepare yourself for this, Noah scored the ace on a par-four, 321-yard hole. Yes, you read that right – 321 yards. Many people can’t even hit a ball that far, let alone into a cup. Noah used a driver on the hole, a dogwood left, without knowing where it would land. To use a golf term, he was hitting it blindly and had never played on the course before.
“I’m aiming at basically nothing, you can’t see the green or anything,” Noah said. “I think I hit a pretty good drive and when we drove up to the hole I couldn’t find my ball. I guessed it was out of bounds. I dropped my ball, took a shot and ended up tapping in for five and the ball I hit off of the tee is frickin’ in the hole. I didn’t even think it would be in the hole. I’m standing there screaming, holy s---.’ My two buddies I was playing with are telling me to chill. I said, ‘it’s in the hole’ and then they started losing it.
“The hole goes downhill and I think we had some wind. I’m definitely not a 320 hitter, but I can hit the ball pretty far.”
There was nobody playing in a group ahead that could have told him about his feat.
It is a tradition to go into the clubhouse to announce a hole in one and then buy beers for your playing partners or even more if you have the bankroll. There was no time for celebration after the round because Noah had to dash to the pet store before it closed because the family dog hadn’t eaten in the five hours it took to play the round.
“My dad would have killed me if I didn’t get to the pet store to get food before it closed,” Noah said. “So, we finished and then left. I took the boys out to the bar on the weekend.”
Playing along with Noah were Zayde Wisdom, a 2020 draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers by way of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, and Shawn Spearing, the captain of the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. Both players have some of the greatest names, so even if they never record a hole in one they immediately earn a place on my All-time Sports Name Team. The Darling name has always been on my list.
Noah is entering his third year of university and is studying Communications.
I asked him if he’s going to follow his father and grandfather in the sports broadcasting industry. He said he definitely wants to get into it or the media in some capacity.
“Doing play by play would be interesting because it runs in the family or public relations,” Noah said.