BIGFORK — It was an ordinary Thursday at Eagle Bend Golf Club.
Jan Quessenberry, 69, arrived at the course on the morning of May 25 like she did every Thursday in summer, excited to play an easy-go-lucky 18-hole round with her friends, Jan Pisko, Mary Exner and Irene Turley.
For Quessenberry, golf has never been about the competition or any outright success. Growing up in Sacramento, she only picked up the sport as a senior in high school after her parents began playing. She’d borrow her dad’s clubs and, without ever taking lessons, tag along to enjoy the family time by meandering the scenic courses alongside mom and dad.
A few years ago, when Quessenberry and her husband, Jim, moved to Bigfork to spend eight months of the year in the idyllic setting of Northwest Montana, she brought her clubs. Again, the sport sparked good fellowship as she joined the ladies’ league and made close friends. And that’s how the Thursday tee time tradition began.
The first nine holes on May 25 were relatively uneventful and the scorecards featured a few more blemishes than anyone desired.
“I suggested we quit and go have a drink in the bar,” Quessenberry said. “They said, ‘No, let’s keep playing.’”
It was the No. 12 hole, an uphill par 3 that was 120 yards from the ladies’ tee box. Quessenberry, whose handicap index is 25, placed her pink Callaway and with a smooth, slow swing sent the ball flying with her three-wood.
Right away, she could feel it.
“Oh, it’s short,” she said, and began walking back to her cart as the ball carried through the air toward the green.
The sound of screaming erupted, startling her. The other ladies in the group began yelling in celebration.
“It rolled in the hole,” one of the women said.
Quessenberry was in disbelief and remained that way until they hurried to the green and discovered the end result.
She reached into the hole and pulled out the pink Callaway.
The ball had landed on the front of the green and rolled right in.
An average amateur player’s odds of getting a hole-in-one on any given par 3 are roughly 1 in 12,500, according to the National Hole in One Association.
Quessenberry was as elated as she was surprised. Two months earlier, she had nailed her ever first hole-in-one on a par 3 in Sacramento. And now in a matter of months — and only five rounds of golf — she’d achieved yet another.
Four holes later, on the par 3 No. 16, the joy of the previous ace lingered as Jan teed up another pink ball, having saved the previous Callaway for good luck. From 101 yards out, she swung her seven iron. This time it felt good immediately.
That’s when the unthinkable occurred. The ball landed on the green and rolled directly into the hole.
“(Jan) was very calm. We were screaming,” Exner said.
Word spread quickly about the unbelievable achievement.
“The ladies started freaking out. They started calling their husbands, who were with my husband,” Quessenberry said. “(Mary) said, ‘You’ll never guess what your wife did. Your wife did something that will cost you a lot of money.’”
Jim quipped, half jokingly, “She didn’t crash the golf cart, did she?”
“He said, ‘Now I know you’re fooling.’ He didn’t believe me,” Quessenberry said.
It wasn’t until Jim and the others hurried to the golf course to meet up with the group of ladies and hear the story that he truly believed what had happened. Celebratory drinks followed.
“We tried to get her to go buy a lottery ticket,” Exner said.
The odds of carding two holes-in-one in the same round are roughly 1 in 156 million.
“I have been in this business for more than 30 years and have only read about freak occurrences like this in Golf Digest,” Eagle Bend Golf Professional Michael Wynne said. “This is pretty amazing.”
As incredible as this may sound, Quessenberry’s uncommon achievement does not stand alone in Montana this summer. Two weeks after Jan’s double aces, George Cook nailed two holes-in-one during an 18-hole round at the Anaconda Hills Golf Course. Cook, 58, aced the No. 13 (149 yards) and No. 15 (112 yards) holes.
“I’ve been golf pro since 1978,” Connie Cramer-Caouette, golf manager for the City of Great Falls, told the Great Falls Tribune, “and I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
For Quessenberry, it’s hard to explain what happened that fateful day in May, but she was glad she could experience it alongside her friends.
“What happened that day? You just don’t expect something like that at all,” she said.
“The stars were aligned, I guess.”