For the record, Benjamin Titus didn’t even know what an albatross was until two weeks ago.
But, thanks to two perfect swings of a golf club, both Titus and his father, Bud, know all about albatrosses and the odds against obtaining them.
An albatross is perhaps the most rare event in golf. Also known as a double eagle, an albatross occurs when a golfer shoots 3-under par on a hole. That’s what Titus did June 23 on the second hole at the Bellevue Municipal Golf Course.
A 488-yard par-5, Titus estimates he drove the ball roughly 290-300 yards down the middle of the fairway on his initial shot. This shot, he said, is what set up the albatross.
Then, in front of his father and two other golfers who had joined up with the Titus’s, Benjamin stepped up to his ball with his 4-iron, hoping to take advantage of the strong drive.
“I just hit a perfect shot with my 4-iron,” Benjamin said. “Everything felt perfect and it went right over a tree on the hole. I didn’t see what happened after that.”
One of the golfers on the green yelled back to Benjamin and Bud. The ball had gone in.
“He said it was in the hole, and I thought ‘no way,’” Benjamin said. “When I shot it, it felt good and I thought it would probably be on the green.
“So I went and looked. And sure enough it was in there.”
Benjamin was initially happy because he thought he had just gotten an eagle, Bud said, before the other two golfers told him it was a par-5, and he had just picked up the rare albatross.
“The other two guys pulled out their cell phones and started calling their friends,” Bud said. “I didn’t even know what an albatross was to be honest with you. I definitely didn’t realize they were so rare. It’s basically two perfect shots.”
Albatrosses are indeed rare; some pundits place the odds of holing a par-5 in two shots at 6 million-to-1. Dean Knuth, the inventor of the USGA’s slope rating system for golf courses and handicaps, places the odds lower, at 1 million-to-1. Either way, it’s a rarer event than the hole-in-one, which Golf Digest places an amateur’s odds at 1 in 12,750.
“When we got to the golf course that morning, Benji said to me ‘I feel good today,’” Bud said. “And when you feel good in golf, it’s like being in the zone. It was just meant to be.”
There’s just one problem now, Benjamin said.
“Now that I know I can do it,’” he said, “it’s a let-down every time I get a par or a bogey.”
“The odds are he’ll never hit another,” Bud said. “But to me, to be with him when he hit it, it’s special.
“It’s the poetry of life. Some things are just meant to happen.”
Joel Willits can be reached at 425-453-4270 ext. 5060 or at email@example.com.