The man of aces - Jeffries has carded 22 holes-in-one

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By The Staff

Bennie Jeffries says the game of golf is easy, the objective being to hit the ball into the hole.

So every time he tees one up, he expects the ball wind up in the cup.

Twenty-two times Jeffries has teed it up and done just that, and that's not including the three times he has made par on a par 3 when his first shot went into the water.

And don't forget his four double-eagles.

"I think it should go in every time I hit it," he said. "Other people I play with are satisfied with being on the green, but the object is to get it in the hole. If I can reach it [the distance], why shouldn't I get it in?"

In case you're wondering how Jeffries' accomplishments stack up, Golf Digest credits Norman Manley with record for most holes-in-one, 59, but by comparison golf icon Jack Nicklaus only had 17.

Jeffries, a resident of Shelbyville, could also be known as Mr. Clear Creek Park.

Fourteen of his aces have come on that nine-hole executive course, and if you take his best shots through the years, he effectively could card a 10 on a nine-hole round -- he has eagled No. 2 at Clear Creek, the only hole he can't reach in one stroke -- or a 20 for 18 holes.

But here's the kicker, Jeffries doesn't even get excited about them anymore.

"I keep losing all my ProV1 [golf balls] to the wall," he said. "Those are about four dollars a ball."

But Jeffries, a retired grocery manager, continues to buy the balls, even if several end up stuck on a trophy shelf hanging on his wall.

Zoeller ruined his game

Jeffries' golf history dates back to 1968 when he started playing golf with friends. He said he is self-taught and used to play with just six clubs - 3-, 5-, 7- and 9-irons, a 4-wood and a putter.

In fact, Jeffries blames former Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller for ruining a one-time scratch golf game.

"He used to be the pro at Whipporwill in Frankfort, before he got big over in Indiana, and we'd play every now and then," Jeffries said. "He couldn't get over the way I hit my four-wood over and over and over up the middle on par 5s.

"Well, he talked me into getting a full set of clubs, and then my handicap went from scratch to a 14."

He never recovered.

"I still carry those 14 clubs, so my handicap is still 14," he said. "I can't get it down from there."

Jeffries played Whipporwill and Henry County Country Club a lot in his early days, hitting the course when there was still dew on it, and then moving to Whipporwill for the lighted par-3 course when it got dark.

"We didn't have any money for a cart, so we'd walk all day," he said. "I didn't even have money for golf balls, so I'd walk around and find balls that people hit out of bounds, then I'd come back and beat them with their own balls."

He laughed. "I didn't buy a golf ball for years."

But even with all those memorable shots, Jeffries said many great ones have gotten away.

"I don't know how many times I could walk up to the green and, 'whew,' blow it in the cup, it was so close," he said. "Or how many have sat right behind the cup, stuck in some dirt and wedged against it. I even had one go in-and-out twice at Doe Valley [in Brandenburg]. But I guess, really, I've been lucky."

Sometimes luck helps

There had to be one that stood out, one that he'll never forget or one that got his blood pumping.

Well, that one came on the old No. 5 at Clear Creek. Playing with a friend, Jeffries said he badly shanked a shot.

"This ball had no business being on the green, much less in the hole," he said. "But it hit a sprinkler head, bounced over and hit the flag as solid as it could. Dropped straight in."

Jeffries then began to laugh, remembering the story.

"I was playing with Charlie [Turner], and he just quit, right there. He really did, too. It was a couple of years before he came back out and played again."

Jeffries, now 66, has no plans to slow down or stop playing. In fact, last Tuesday, as he sat and shared stories, he had already played 14 nine-hole rounds that day at Clear Creek, walking each one. He has walked as many as 16 miles on a course (playing 54 holes).

"I play for my health and because I love the game," he said. "It's good for me, all this walking around, and there's no other game like it.

"I've played every sport there is, but there's nothing like golf. Just about the time you think you know what you're doing, it kicks you so hard. This thing will drive you crazy."

One thing would make Jeffries quit: that 10 on Clear Creek's nine-hole course.

"The day I do that, well then I've gotten it," he said. "I'll just walk off and on home then I guess, find something else to do."


The list

Jeffries keeps a list of each of his hole-in-ones in his wallet. The worn piece of paper has writing on each side, and he said he has had to rewrite it a few times. The list has the course and the hole number for each shot. The list reads:

1. Whipporwill, No. 9

2. Whipporwill, No. 16

3. Whipporwill, No. 4

4. Juniper Hills, No. 3

5. Bob O' Link, No. 12

6. Cabin Brook, No. 6

7. Clear Creek, No. 5

8. Henry County, No. 14

9. Clear Creek, No. 3

10. Clear Creek, No. 6

11. Clear Creek, No. 9

12. Clear Creek, No. 5

13. Fairway, No. 5

14. Clear Creek, No. 9

15. Clear Creek, No. 1

16. Clear Creek, No. 2

17. Clear Creek, No. 8

18. Clear Creek No. 7

19. Clear Creek, No. 1

20. Clear Creek, No. 4

21. Clear Creek, No. 4

22. Clear Creek, No. 9