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Golfers take aim at the flag

Greenlea Course has seen nine official hole-in-ones over the past year
by: Jim Clark Stan Johnson of Gresham, right, chips on to the green on the ninth hole at Greenlea Golf Course in Boring. With him is friend Shawn Robinson of Vancouver. Greenlea’s executive course, below, offers a mix of par-3 and par-4 holes along with a view of Mt. Hood.

Among the sports feats most difficult to attain, it appears that golf's hole-in-one ranks near the top of the list. U.S. Hole In One is a company that specializes in providing insurance to tournaments that offer hole-in-one contests, and as part of their job, they've set out to determine just how unlikely it is to be able to mark a one on your scorecard.

For an amateur golfer on a hole of 150 yards or more, these experts approximate the odds to be 12,500 to 1, while a professional's odds are closer to 2,500 to 1.

For Portland residents, however, it appears there may be a spot that has a bit of luck on its side. Located in Boring, the Greenlea Executive Golf Course features five par-3s that have provided the backdrop for nine holes-in-one in the past year alone.

It's hole No. 6, a short 115-yarder shielded by trees on each side, that has yielded the most aces of them all.

The ironic part of all this is that the two women who run the course aren't even going out of their way to make things easy.

'We don't try to make things easy or hard,' Belinda Schurman said, 'but we do try to move the pin locations weekly just to mix things up.'

One of the lucky golfers to have earned his way onto the clubhouse billboard is Portland resident Steven Carolus, who easily remembers the best shot of his life from September 22, 2010.

'It was the eighth hole which is on a slant,' Carolus said, 'and usually I use my five-iron, but since the flag was at the top of the slant and toward the back of the green, my brother recommended I use my four iron. My ball ended up landing a foot or two above the pin, and after my brother hit his shot we began walking towards the green when we realized my ball had disappeared.'

The eighth hole measured an even 150 yards from the tee Carolus hit from, and while he wasn't aware of the odds mentioned above, he knows that he can't take all the credit for the shot.

'I had never seen anyone get a hole-in-one before,' he said, 'and I know they're not easy to come by so there was a lot of luck in that.'

While Carolus didn't have to buy drinks or dinner for his group, he was able to celebrate the accomplishment with a trophy from his brother.

Well, that and a story most golfers would die for.