22 years later, Bohn remembers THE shot
Tour veteran Jason Bohn had just polished off a smooth-running 66 to move into a tie for third place, three shots out of the lead, in the sun-splashed Sanderson Farms Championship Saturday.
Asked his thoughts about the day, he responded with a smile, “Roll Tide. I can’t wait to watch the game tonight.”
He was talking about LSU-Alabama. Yes, Bohn attended the University of Alabama. No, he never hit a golf shot for the Crimson Tide.
Bohn, from Lewisburg, Pa., walked onto the Alabama golf program, was red-shirted his freshman year, and was vying for a spot on the team in the fall of 1992.
That was the fall of Alabama’s football national championship run under Gene Stallings when George Teague chased down a Miami Hurricane player in the Sugar Bowl and then took the ball away from him — the greatest defensive play these eyes have ever seen.
That also was the fall when Jason Bohn hit the greatest golf shot his eyes have ever seen.
The morning after Halloween — Nov. 1, 1992 — Bohn was awakened by a teammate, Bohn’s head pounding from partying the night before.
“We gotta go to the golf course,” the teammate said.
“I just wanted to go back to sleep,” Bohn says.
The teammate insisted. Bohn dragged himself up. He still had on a T-shirt the from the night before. He put on a vest over it.
A week earlier, Bohn had borrowed $10 to enter a hole-in-one contest for charity. That gave him 10 shots to try to hit his ball within a 10-foot circle from 135 yards away. Bohn hit one shot in the circle, which gave him one shot in the semifinals of the contest a week later.
Fast forward one week. In the semifinals the 10 closest shots to the hole would win a spot in the finals. Bohn, his head still throbbing, took out his 9-iron and hit his shot 4 feet, 8 inches from the hole. There were 150 shots to be hit. While all the other semifinalists hit their shots. Bohn napped on the practice range. Again, he was awakened to learn that he was, indeed, one of the 12 finalists.
“Every finalist was going to get a prize,” Bohn says. “There were TVs and lots of other stuff….”
His golf coach warned him not to accept a prize worth over $500. That would cost him his amateur status and his college eligibility.
Here’s the best part: Should one of the finalists make a hole-in-one, it would be worth $1 million, to be paid $50,000 a year for 20 years.
Again, the distance was 135 yards. Again, Bohn drew his 9-iron.
Truth is, he says, he didn’t hit the ball all that well. But his slightly heeled 9-iron faded toward the hole, bounced once, checked and trickled into the hole.
Now fast-forward 22 years and a week later.
Bohn is asked: Was it a difficult decision to give up your amateur status and your college golf career?
He laughs. “No,” he says, “not at all. I mean, $50,000 a year for 20 years. How many 19-year-olds turn that down? It was not hard at all.”
Bohn stayed in school at Alabama, got a job at the Tuscaloosa Country Club and worked on his golf game, saving money to play the mini-tours and, as he puts it, “learn how to play this game.”
Bohn will be the first to tell you, he’s not the most talented guy on Tour. He was anything but an instant success. Tour players have a word for it: grinder. Jason Bohn was a grinder.
He finally made it to the PGA Tour in 2004, 12 years after THE shot. In his 11 years on tour, he has won two tournaments and more than $12 million.
“I never would have made it without that hole-in-one,” he says. “I couldn’t have afforded it. But with $50,000 a year guaranteed, I didn’t have to beg for sponsors. I was my own sponsor. I owe it all to that one shot.”
You still can find the on youtube.com. The picture is grainy. But you can see the ball go in and you can see Bohn’s reaction. Put it this way: The hangover disappeared.
The odds were probably a million to one, maybe even higher.
Says Bohn, “It’s still hard to believe that ball went in. It was the shot of a lifetime.”