Rare Air

Carmel Christian golfer’s albatross puts him among sport’s elite – at age 14

by Andrew Stark

Carmel Christian School eighth-grader Grant Armistead record the rare double eagle, or albatross, at Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation last month. Andrew Stark/MMHW photo

March 13 started out much like any other day for 14-year-old Grant Armistead, a Carmel Christian School eighth-grader.

Armistead, the No. 1 player on the school’s high school varsity golf team, and his teammates were facing Huntersville SouthLake Christian in the first match of the year at Mint Hill’s Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation.

Through six holes, Armistead couldn’t get much going, and he wound up shooting a nine-hole score of 42 as his Cougars fell, 163-189.

That part of the story is ordinary, but what happened on the 504-yard par-5 seventh hole is far from it.

Armistead had “half swung” his driver and put a 210-yard drive in the middle of the fairway. His second shot, uphill and over water, was blind and he couldn’t see the green from where he stood. He was 221 yards from the hole and took out his 4 wood.

“When I hit it, I knew it had to be somewhere close,” Armistead said. “I came up to the green, and I couldn’t find my ball. I looked all around and decided to check the hole, and there it was.

“I couldn’t believe it at first and thought someone had picked it up and put it in the hole.”

He’d made a double eagle, also called an albatross – one of the rarest feats in golf.

Some estimates have the odds of someone shooting an albatross at 6 million-to-1. Others, such as Dean Knuth, the inventor of the United States Golf Association’s slope rating system, say it is more like a million-to-1 odds. Either way, it’s extremely impressive.

In fact, on the PGA Tour between 1983 and 2003, there were 631 holes-in-one made. During that same stretch, only 56 double eagles were recorded.

“(Carmel Christian) coach (Cy Gaydos) didn’t find out until the next hole, but the SouthLake coach was up there and was absolutely shocked,” Armistead said. “None of my friends believed me on the course, and that is probably the best sports moment I have had.”

It’s an amazing accomplishment for anyone, especially for Armistead, who said he has always been a baseball player and didn’t “seriously” play golf until last September. Now, he’s already accomplished the rarest feat in golf.

“I still have the ball – it is sitting in my room,” Armistead said.
He is trying to get the scorecard from that magical shot but can always hold on to the memory.

“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I should have shot better that day with the double eagle, but it is something I will always remember.”

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