Starbird aces Samoset's third hole during first matchCamden Hills junior records first hole-in-one in match against Belfast
Rockport — Julian Starbird has hit thousands of golf shots during his young links career, but few as pure as that on the 155-yard, par-3 third hole Friday afternoon, Aug. 29 on the Samoset Resort Golf Course.
Starbird, 16, a junior at Camden Hills Regional High School, was playing in his first match of the new season when he hit his tee shot, using an 8-iron, nearly directly into the hole for his first ace.
However, for Starbird, by his overall reaction, at least, it was just another shot, albeit one that someday will hold a special place in his heart.
Starbird knocked in his first career hole-in-one while playing a season-opening match against visiting Belfast. His playing partners were teammate Jared Garske and Lions Doyle Bailey and Alex Lind.
None of the four schoolboy golfers had ever made an ace or witnessed an ace on the course.
In fact, while the group obviously was thrilled by the shot — as was evident by the yell that came from them and echoed across the course when they discovered Starbird had aced the hole — the young man who swung the club was, well, not overly impressed.
How would one know, you may ask? Well, the young Hope resident continued to use the ball during the round. That is right. The same ball he recorded his ace with.
At one point his coach, Mark Wallace, told him to take the ball out of play because some day he would want the ball to remember the special shot. The coach even said he would buy Starbird a new ball to replace his hole-in-one ball.
Wallace said Starbird took the ball out of play after the fourth hole when the coach "strongly encouraged him to do so."
The hole is a tough one, one that is uphill and hugs the shoreline. And while Starbird and his playing mates knew the shot was a good one, they had no idea it would end up in the cup.
But others involved with the match did.
Start with Belfast coach Chip Lagerbom and his daughter, Audrey, 11, who were near the third green and saw the shot play out.
The Lagerboms said the ball was so true it hit the base of the pin and dropped in the cup.
Audrey said she had never witnessed an ace before, "not even in mini golf."
"We looked at each other and said, 'Did that just go in?,' " Chip said of the reaction of he and his daughter.
Wallace watched the shot from behind the third tee and then rode up in a cart and checked to see where the shot ended up. In the cup, of course. Then the coach gave the news to his young golfer.
"I thought it was all over it, or at least it looked like it," said Starbird of his shot. "It is really exciting."
Starbird, whose parents are Steve Starbird of Warren and Jamie Ames of Hope, said he has recorded many eagles, a boatload of birdies and has come five or six inches from other holes-in-one, but Friday afternoon was his first ace. And, fittingly, perhaps, it came during the opening school match.
The ace helped Starbird, who has played golf since he was age four or five, go from 1-over par to 1-under par early in the round with just one swing.
Wallace, who has coached the Windjammers to two straight Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B titles and the 2013 state Class B crown, said another current Windjammer player, Drew Long, has an ace to his credit, but that did not come during a match or even during the school season.
Wallace also has one ace in 35 years of playing the game, and that came several years ago when he was playing a practice round with two of his then school golfers, Nick Wootton and Marshall Haynes, as the coach recorded a hole-in-one on the difficult 156-yard, par-3 seventh at the Samoset. He used a 7-iron.
Wallace still has the ball, the scorecard and all the information at his home and he desperately tried to convince Starbird not to continue playing with his hole-in-one ball for fear of losing it.
And, as the scenario played out, the coach was able to convince Starbird his "special" ball was worth keeping even if the talented youngster deemed it just another good shot.
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media nearly 35 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon, who lives in North Carolina.
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