The coronavirus pandemic has forced golf courses to get creative in order to stay open and safe.
Jordan Spieth became a high-profile victim of the rules in place at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas, on Thursday when he watched his tee shot fly into the cup for an apparent ace, only to see it bounce back out and roll into nearby water.
For safety purposes, as is the case at many golf courses now open around the country, foam or plastic slats were placed within cups at Maridoe so players would not have to reach far into the hole to retrieve their golf balls.
Under normal circumstances, the ace would have been negated, but Spieth, who was playing in a group along with former NFL quarterback Tony Romo but not competing in the Maridoe Samaritan Fund Invitational, said he’s counting it as a hole-in-one anyway.
“Sure, why not?” he said in an interview with tournament organizers afterward, figuring it was the seventh or eighth ace he has made.
Spieth, a three-time major champion, joined the group for the final round of the 54-hole event, which was benefiting the caddies at the club. At the par-3 17th hole, which was playing just 110 yards, he flew his tee shot into the cup — for a moment.
He said the ace would have been his first one in years.
“It never left the flag,” Spieth said. “I knew it was going to land somewhere around the hole. It’s my first one in probably three or four years. I kind of had a three- or four-year streak where I had a few and I’ve been shut out for a while. I’m going to count it. It was one of those where it most likely would have stayed in. Hopefully it’s a good omen.”
Among other coronavirus-related safety measures that were taken at the event held without spectators, players were not allowed to have caddies, there were no rakes in bunkers and flagsticks were not permitted to be removed.
The event had a small purse, and Scheffler donated his $9,000 first prize to the caddie fund. The $250 entry fee to the event for every player in the tournament also went to that fund.