Acing the course: Lalla’ fifth hole in one gives him sweep of par-3 holes at Tiara Rado
John Lalla doesn’t mind beating the odds on the golf course.
Just by the numbers, a hole in one is one of the most difficult accomplishments to achieve in an individual sport. According to the September 2005 issue of Golf Digest, the odds of an average player making a hole in one are 12,000 to 1.
Most recreational players will go their whole lives without an ace.
Lalla isn’t one of those players.
On Aug. 31, the 82-year-old Lalla aced the 85-yard 14th hole at Tiara Rado Golf Course with a wedge.
That ace gave Lalla a total of five holes in one in his lifetime.
Even more notably, the hole in one meant Lalla has aced every par-3 of the current Tiara Rado layout.
“I wanted to get all the par-3s on this course,” Lalla said. “I already had three and so I figured it would be unique.”
Lalla began playing golf in 1948 as a 20-year-old stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the U.S. Navy.
“All the guys I ran around with were sports-oriented,” Lalla said. “We’d play baseball, golf, whatever we could.”
After retiring from the Navy in 1966, Lalla became the executive director of the Yavapai County Health Department in Prescott, Ariz.
He retired in 1994 and moved to Grand Junction to be closer to his children.
The Grand Valley’s courses have treated Lalla well.
Lalla notched his first ace in 1998 on No. 7 at Lincoln Park. Lalla used a 7-wood from 180 yards away.
“It was a blind shot, you couldn’t see it go in the hole,” Lalla said. “But we could hear it hit the pin.”
After the first one, Lalla said he recorded a hole in one every couple of years, but couldn’t remember the details as well as his first.
“It was exciting for the first one, but after that, it just seemed routine,” Lalla said. “You know, a hole in one is 90 percent luck anyway.”
Lalla said he’s never actually gotten a hole in one by trying. His approach was to attack the pin and see what happened.
“They usually come when you least expect them,” Lalla said. “But you are always trying to get close to the hole naturally.”
Lalla has a sweep of the par-3 holes at Tiara Rado with the recent ace of No. 14. But the redesign of the back nine didn’t allow Lalla to ace every par-3 hole at Tiara Rado.
Lalla said he tried to ace the old No. 11, which was a 154-yard par-3.
“I tried for years and years to get that old No. 11,” Lalla said. “I never could get it, then they closed it.”
Lalla said his next goal is to ace the par-3 No. 3 at Lincoln Park. That would give Lalla an ace at every par 3 hole for Grand Junction’s municipal courses.
“I wanted to get all the par-3s at Tiara Rado,” Lalla said. “Next I’d like to have No. 3 at Lincoln. I got the Tiara Rado ‘grand slam,’ so I’m going for it over there.”