Whitehorse’s Gaets Michaud is a pretty talkative guy. But on Sunday he was at a loss for words.
“I was speechless. I couldn’t figure out what to say,” he said.
Coming off hole 5 at Meadow Lakes Golf Club, Michaud decided to pull his five-iron from his bag. With a swing of the club, he made history, becoming the first Special Olympics Yukon (SOY) athlete ever to hit a hole in one.
“A buddy of mine, Mike Sumner, predicted right before the round even started, that someone was going to get a hole in one,” said Michaud. “I’m having a pretty good round and get to hole 6 and I’m like, ‘I’m going to try my five-iron just to see how it goes.’ I grab the five-iron, take the shot and it was straight, and I thought, ‘Wow, this could be a good shot here.’ I see it drop, roll in the hole.
“I’m like, “Oh my god!’ I drop my club, ran up to the green, and I look, and sure enough it was in the hole.”
Michaud sent his Maxfli 3 golf ball – that’s sure to go up on the mantle at home – about 120 yards for the ace on the par 3, becoming just the eighth player to log a hole in one on the course. It also marked his first eagle (two under par) on a hole.
A few years ago Michaud’s father sunk two hole in ones in the matter of weeks. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe not.
“It makes me the only male Michaud in my family not to have a hole in one,” chuckled older brother Serge, the SOY executive director.
“I think he should pull up his socks and join the exclusive club,” kidded Gaets.
The club is definitely exclusive. According to insurance companies that insure hole-in-one contests at tournaments and events – that frequently have expensive prizes on the line – the odds of an amateur golfer sinking an ace is 12,500 to one.
“Holes in one – they don’t come around too often,” said Serge. “But it just goes to show that you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.
“For me it just shows the growth and development of that program. More and more players are in our program playing golf and therefore the odds are in our favour. It was bound to happen, that one of our players was going to get a hole in one.”
SOY currently has about a dozen players in the golf program, receiving instruction from four coaches.
Gaets’ hole in one wasn’t his first red-letter achievement in sport. The 36-year-old was on SOY’s first-ever gold-winning curling team at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in 2012.
He also played on SOY’s first gold-winning soccer team at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in 2014.
Despite his recent achievement, he’s not quite ready to hang up his soccer cleats for the next national Games.
“I’ll stick to soccer because I want to defend my gold medal title at the national Games in 2018,” said Gaets. “Maybe another four or five years down the road, who knows, I might play golf for Special Olympics.
“Golf is just a sport I just play for fun. It’s a leisurely sport, it’s a stress-free game. You’re out here enjoying the nice weather and playing a great round of golf.”
Gaets, who lists his favourtie player as Canadian Mike Weir, took up golf about a dozen yeas ago in his native Montreal.
He’s played lots of golf and has many more years of it to go, but he’ll never forget that fateful day on hole 6 at Meadow Lakes, he says.
“I usually over shoot, but that day I had a nice swing,” said Gaets.
“I’ve played golf for a long time and I really enjoy it,” he adds. “I play as much as I can. It’s a great way to keep in shape and have a good laugh at the guys. It’s a social game – you’re there to have fun.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org