Weston golfer is a real ace at holes-in-one
Published 12:35 pm, Wednesday, March 30, 2011
By Frank Szivos
Call him "Ace" or "Radar Man" or just plain good.
As Seve Esposito of Weston starts practicing for the coming golf season, he has a singular record to live up to -- a dozen holes-in-one, all certified.
His most recent came shortly before last Thanksgiving at the 6th hole at Great River Golf Club in Milford -- a wedge shot. Esposito hit a soft shot that headed straight for the pin that dropped into the hole on the fly. Bloop. Shortly before recording his latest ace, he had eye surgery and hoped it didn't mess up his golf game. It didn't.
"I've been lucky, for sure," Esposito said. "But one thing about holes-in-one, they never get old. It's cool to see the ball roll in the cup while you're watching from the tee. But it takes a lot of luck, too"
Most golfers dream of recording a hole-in-one, but never get a sniff in their golfing lifetime. Esposito is another incredible story, but he doesn't come close to holding the amateur record which was 51 aces by one person as of 2007. His own hole-in-one barrage began about a decade ago. Amazingly, one came on a Par 4 and also has two double eagles (a 2 on a Par 5), of which he's just as proud.
Esposito, a 7 handicap, typically shoots between 78 to 88 on his home course, Great River. However, he plays better than the scores might indicate considering that Great River, one of the most demanding in the state with a 150 slope rating (degree of difficulty) -- 155 is the maximum. What's more, he has shot 69 a couple times and a 73 at Great River.
Ken Walsh of Fairfield, one of Esposito's regular playing partners, has witnessed two of his aces and thinks there's always a chance when his friend steps up to a Par 3.
"Seve is just a very good golfer," Walsh said. "You play with him and you think he's going to ace every Par 3. He's really amazing and a great guy who just loves the game. He's very smart out on the course."
Actually, Esposito hasn't seen all of them roll into the hole. Take his third ace at Sterling Farms Golf Course in Stamford on the 16th hole, a 309-yard Par 4. Esposito launched a drive over the trees, cutting the downhill dogleg right.
He had no idea that he reached the green so when he drove up to the hole in a cart, the foursome ahead of him was yelling. He thought they were angry because he had driven the ball too close, until one golfer explained that the ball rolled into the cup.
"I didn't realize the ball was even on the green. It was kind of cool," he said. "All the guys on the green were yelling. I was apologizing until I realized that they were congratulating me." Scoring a hole-in-one is certainly a thrill, but the shot that sticks out in Esposito's memory is the double eagle on the 12th hole at Great River Golf Club. First, the 535-yard Par 5 can bring you to your knees -- it's plain tough.
On April 23, 2006, Esposito pounded a long drive 357 yards and faced a second shot of 178 yards uphill. He smacked the shot with a 5 wood, knowing he hit it good. When he reached the green, he was shocked there was no ball in sight. His playing partner walked to the hole and pulled out the ball, saying: "Seve, this is your ball and you got a two." Other people were impressed with the shot, too. Great River placed a plaque in the fairway from the spot he hit the shot. "Every time I play with my son, he flips out over the plaque," Esposito explained.
Kevin Ferrarotti, assistant manager of Great River, said the club put the plaque in the 12th fairway because it's rarer than a hole-in-one, and Esposito is so well liked at the course.
"You won't see many double eagles on that hole; they're rarer than a hole-in-one," Ferrarotti said. "It was quite a feat, and Seve is the nicest guy you're ever going to meet."
A package designer and owner of Zunda Group in Norwalk, Esposito took up the game in his 20s to play with his father, a 2 handicap. Every Sunday for 30 years, he played golf with dad in the Bronx where he grew up. For the record, he started his run of aces at Pelham Golf Club in the Bronx.
"My father was a player, but I wanted no part of the game until my early 20s," Esposito said. "We played every Sunday; it was ritual. We had the first tee time, teeing off as the sun was coming up at six thirty. Now that he's gone, I miss our game. I would trade all my holes-in-one for one more Sunday with him." Esposito continues the family tradition, playing regularly with his 8-year-old son, Dante, and occasionally his wife, who can hit it past a lot of guys. Esposito rolled in one of his aces, playing with his wife on vacation in Florida.
So does collecting aces like other golfers collect bogeys get old? Never, he said. It's the ultimate for any golfer like hitting the lottery over and over again.
"I've been lucky on the golf course," Esposito said. "It never gets old; it's always cool when you're playing with your buddies and you have a couple dollars bet on the match."
Does he plan to ace any more holes this season? He never does. He can't believe he'll ever have another. Then, again, he's thought that for the last three decades.
"I think I'm all done with the holes-in-one," Esposito said. "I'm done; tapped out. I'll take an even dozen."