Eric Backer's tee shot went from good to great to phenomenal.
First, his ball stayed low and level as he aimed for the green 309 yards away on the par-4 17th hole during a scramble at the Players Club at Deer Creek.
“The moment I hit it I thought, 'That's a good shot,' ” Backer said.
When it landed softly on the green, Backer's estimation went up a notch. He knew he'd put his partners in good position to win a hole during The World-Herald tournament for car dealers.
He started to turn away when teammate Jeff Anderson said the ball had dropped in the cup after bouncing twice. That's when it got exciting.
“I made them take a picture and got it on Facebook right away,” Backer said. “We'd no more made it to the next green then people were asking who had the hole-in-one. It spread around the course pretty quick.”
Backer said he couldn't believe it at first. When he rode up to the green in his cart, he expected to spot his ball hiding in a valley on the green.
“I've never been so happy not to see a golf ball,” he said.
Backer, who works for Lexus of Omaha, said he'd played the course a few times and normally would have laid up with an iron and gone for the green in two. This time he used a driver.
Backer and Anderson, who works for Baxter Ford, followed their strategy of aiming for the green after teammates Mike Moore of the Infiniti Store and Sonya Eschliman of The World-Herald reached the fairway.
“I wasn't surprised by the distance, I've been able to hit 300 yards,” Backer said. “The accuracy, that was surprising.”
It was the first ace for the 39-year-old, who started playing golf when he was a senior in high school in Bridgeport, Neb.
His sales work at Lexus and a growing family with wife Kendra have trimmed back his playing time until this year, when he's been able to make it to the links a few times a month.
He's taken 9-year-old Alex, 6-year-old Sofia and 3-year-old Emelyn out a few times, and said surprisingly it's Emelyn who makes the best caddie he's ever had.
“She loves to hold the flag when I'm putting and ride around in the cart,” he said. “The other ones lose focus.”
Big shots keep him coming back — that and trying to improve every time out. He also loves being outdoors.
He doesn't golf enough yet to have a handicap.
“Usually bogey golf is what I hope for,” he said.