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MailTribune.com
  • Former Medford golfer hits it big with aces

  • The private life of Bunny Casey was recently turned upside down.
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  • The private life of Bunny Casey was recently turned upside down.
    The avid and talented golfer had become so gun-shy of publicity that, not long ago, when she hit a tee ball that threatened to go in the hole on a par 3, she did all she could to successfully will it away from the cup.
    "I said, 'No, no, no, don't go in. Please, don't go in,'" she laughs.
    Most players are eager to get holes-in-one.
    Casey likely was, too, until she got two — in the same round.
    The former Medford resident, who lives in Palm Desert, Calif., experienced a remarkably rare achievement on April 18 at Ironwood Country Club when she made two aces in the same round.
    The odds of that happening, according to an oft-cited study commissioned by Golf Digest, are 67 million-to-one.
    You are far more likely to be hit by lightning, become president or an astronaut or be killed by a mountain lion than you are to get two holes-in-one in the same round.
    "I'm telling you, it was crazy," says Casey, 70, a former champion in the Southern Oregon Golf Championships who, with her late husband, Dick, moved to Southern California in 1985.
    She noted there were stories in the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and her local paper and on local radio.
    "There goes my nice little quiet, private life," she says. "I've had more people say hello to me, and I have no idea who they are."
    One can assume she was joking about not wanting another ace. The object of the game is, after all, to get the ball in the hole with an economy of strokes, and, well, one is pretty economical. It's also something at which she's adept.
    Casey, who won the 1986 SOGC over Pam Hubbard, has a 6 handicap and, with her exploits a few weeks ago, now has six holes-in-one.
    One of them came on the 13th hole at Rogue Valley Country Club, where she and her husband, who owned Rogue River Paving for 27 years, were members in the 1970s and 80s. He passed away in 2009.
    Casey — who seldom hears her given name, Mary, because she was born on Easter — added to her cache of aces on the first day of a women's member-member tournament at Ironwood. With a shotgun start on the North Course, she and playing partner Randy Taliaferro began on the 11th hole.
    "I was moaning and groaning," says Casey, a seven-time club champion who plays four rounds a week. "I hate starting on par 3s."
    She was suitably warmed up, however. Her first swing of the day, with a 5-hybrid, produced magic.
    The hole plays about 135 yards uphill, meaning the group couldn't see the cup. One of the players said the shot was on the green; to Casey, that meant she probably had gone in a back sand trap.
    She grabbed her sand wedge "because that's where I am most of the time," says Casey.
    But before she got there, another player found the ball in the hole.
    "You're kidding," exclaimed Casey.
    There was the requisite jubilation, and Casey still hadn't completely gathered herself on the next hole, another par 3 that she bogeyed.
    The format was best ball and, with Taliaferro's handicap of 14, Casey's ball was used most often. She was playing well, too, when she got to the fourth hole, which also requires an uphill shot. With the pin in the back, making it about 150 yards, the players again couldn't see beyond the front of the green.
    With water in front, Casey took 5-wood.
    "I don't want to be short," she says. "I want to get it all the way back."
    A fellow player announced it was heading toward the hole. Sure enough, this one was in the cup, too.
    "That's when everything got crazy," says Casey.
    She was high-fived and hugged. A call was placed to the pro shop.
    "It was bedlam," she says.
    She texted a friend a short while later, and he said the news was already out.
    "The problem was," says Casey, "we were in a tournament and I had a partner. I had to concentrate. It's not like I could jump up and down and go crazy. We still had a lot of holes to go."
    They went well until the final hole, when Casey and Co. took an 8 on the par 5 and finished at 2-over-par 72.
    Their disappointment didn't last long, for the pro shop was ready when Casey came in. There was a congratulatory poster, pink balloons and a bucket containing four bottles of her beverage of choice, beer.
    With 200 women in the tournament, the bar bill was hefty, says Casey. But she's in the hole-in-one pot and made out fine.
    The reverberations didn't immediately subside.
    The next day, a woman asked how many aces Casey had on Day 2.
    Casey's email address includes her name followed by "one." A friend suggested she change it to "two."
    It's not for aces, Casey says, "You just have to have so many damn letters."
    When she went to a popular golf shop in town, the owner announced to everyone that a star had arrived.
    At an open house for a local business, she talked with a woman and her grandson and discovered the boy, 14, who aspires to play professionally, had also made two holes-in-one in the same round.
    "You've got to be kidding me," Casey said, then wondered how long the odds were that two people who did it would have a chance meeting. "He was very casual about it. I guess at 14, it's no big deal. He's in for a real shock."
    The most rewarding occurrence, says Casey, was a woman who wrote to the club. A prospective member, she told how she called her grandparents. Usually, she hardly spoke with her grandfather and did so at length with her grandmother. This time, aware his granddaughter would join Ironwood, the grandfather asked for the phone and proceeded to chat about the woman who made two aces.
    It was the most they talked in some time. A victim of Parkinson's Disease, he unexpectedly passed away that evening.
    The club gave Casey the letter, and she wrote to the granddaughter.
    "It's interesting how things go around," says Casey.
    In that instance, she didn't mind so much that her privacy was interrupted.
    Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
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