U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Four Aces in 11 Months? Must be Luck of the Irish for Brenda Williams
September 9, 2017 | PORTLAND, Ore.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
Brenda Williams didn’t record an ace in Round 1 of the 56th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship at Waverley Country Club. That’s not exactly news, as only 10 holes-in-one have been registered in championship history. But Williams may be the only player on the planet who can feel legitimately disappointed leaving the course without a 1 on their score card.
That’s because Williams, 57, of Minnetrista, Minn., made an astonishing four holes-in-one in an 11-month, 3-day span from August 2016 through July 2017. That is believed to be a record for a four-ace stretch by 20 days, according to the National Hole In One Registry.
Many a great golfer has spent a lifetime searching for the white whale that is the hole-in-one. So, what’s Williams’ secret? In this case, it may be an instance of life imitating art.
A graphic designer who runs her own business, Elliott Williams Design, Williams created the logo for Erin Hills, host site of this year’s U.S. Open Championship.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me, ‘Maybe it’s the Erin Hills logo, maybe it’s the luck of the Irish.’ I had to make sure to wear it today,” said Williams of her fortuitous run of holes-in-one.
Williams, who wore a black U.S. Open hat with a green shamrock Erin Hills logo and pink Erin Hills ball marker that paid homage to her design on Saturday, used a USGA connection to get the Erin Hills job.
Irv Fish, a former USGA Executive Committee member, was friends with Jim Reinhart, also a former Executive Committee member. Reinhart was a key figure in the building of Erin Hills and served as general chairman of the 2017 U.S. Open. Fish, fond of Williams’ work, in particular the logo she designed for Windsong Farm Golf Club in Minnesota, recommended her to Reinhart.
Williams visited Erin Hills before it opened to get a feel for the property and brain-storm potential logo ideas. A tree-themed logo and a logo incorporating the scenic Holy Hill basilica in the background of the 18th hole were considered. But Williams was taken by an iron bell on the property’s former Dell Hole. A blind, severe-downhill par 3, the Dell Hole had a bell that players had to ring to let other players know the area was clear. The controversial hole was eventually removed, but the bell lives on.
“Erin Hills feels like an Irish course, so I took the iron art out of the bell and the Irish theme of the course and created the iron shamrock logo,” said Williams.
Although Erin Hills has been considered one of the best courses in the country since it opened in 2006, hosting the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and 2011 U.S. Amateur championships, Williams’ design took center stage during the U.S. Open in June.
“That was really fun. People were constantly sending me photos of everything the logo was on,” said Williams.
Returning to Williams’ quartet of aces, all have an interesting story.
The first one happened in a family event at Windsong Farms with her husband, Hap, and son, Riley. Riley wanted Brenda to go for the flag.
“Come on, mom, hit it close. I said no way, I’m not going for that hole because it was tucked behind a bunker on the left of the green; not a hole location I would usually go for,” said Williams. “That was exciting because of the look on my son’s face and the reaction: Go in! Go in! Yes!”
The second one happened on Jan. 6 on the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. One of Williams’ playing partners had recently made a hole-in-one on top of another player on the same hole, a 17,000,000-to-1 shot. The third one occurred on July 24 on the Outlaw Course at Desert Mountain in the first round of the club championship.
Williams’ fourth and most recent ace happened in the Minnesota Women’s Amateur at Northland Country Club in Duluth, Minn. That one stands out because the parents of 2003 U.S. Women’s Open champion Hilary Lunke were behind the green and watched it roll in and came running to meet Williams with open arms.
As if the Williams family needed more luck, Riley, 23, added his first ace on Holy Thursday – so maybe it was more divine intervention than luck – with Brenda looking through her distance-measuring device as the ball dropped in the hole.
Once Williams’ schedule starts to clear in the fall, she plans to submit the mountain of necessary paperwork to Guinness for entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Based on the past year, it seems likely she will ace that test, too.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.