There is a countertop covered with trophies, “From here to that wall,” Bob Hullender says while pointing about 15 feet away, collected from a competitive golf career that’s as prolific as they come for anyone living in San Antonio. He’s the oldest to win a Texas State Amateur championship, a four-time state senior amateur champ, three times a medalist in the U.S. Senior Amateur and runnerup at the 1994 U.S. Senior Amateur.
He’s won so many amateur golf tournaments that one website resorted to describe the count simply as “numerous.” And while the flow of wins has trickled down, comparatively, with his advancing age as a 76-year-old, Hullender still does enough on the golf course to make people notice.
How could they not, if they were lucky enough to play in Hullender’s group during a five-day span that started on Jan. 3. It’s when Hullender recorded a pair of holes-in-one. And then there was the double-eagle before the week ended.
Though these were recreational rounds of golf away from formal competition, it still doesn’t take Hullender long to place the accomplishment in his career.
“In just playing an every-day round of golf,” Hullender said, “it’s got to be up there.”
Up there, like the odds of such a thing happening on a golf course in the first place. Just to make one hole-in-one, the odds of a low handicapper like Hullender making an ace are 5,000-to-1 according to the National Hole-In-One Registry. For that player to make two holes-in-one in 18 holes, the odds skyrocket to 67 million-to-1.
No, Hullender didn’t make his in the same round, but who’s counting when they came just three days apart? And then the next day he makes his double-eagle, which is universally regarded as more rare than a hole-in-one.
So what fluke allowed Hullender to pull off this sequence?
“There were no ‘weirdos’ about it,” he said. “I knew I had the right club in my hands.”
Here are the steps toward Hullender winning golf’s big-shot lottery, just in case anyone might like to follow in those footsteps and see if Hell freezes over for them as well: On Friday, Jan. 3, he aced No. 16 at the La Loma Course at Fort Sam Houston with a 7-iron from 158 yards; Monday, Jan. 6, he put down the second ace at Brackenridge Park on the 138-yard 10th with a 9-iron.
Mike Arnold, who teamed with Hullender to win the Texas State Four-Ball Super Senior Division Championship last year, witnessed both. The day after the second ace, Tuesday, Jan. 7, he was playing in a group in front of Hullender at Olmos Basin Golf Course and had just finished his round on the par-5 18th that was playing close to 500 yards. Soon, word made it to the clubhouse that Hullender produced another remarkable shot. He’d double-eagled from 215 yards using a 3-iron loft hydrid.
Arnold believed every word of it.
“When it’s a shot by Bob, I don’t doubt anything,” Arnold said. “To make those shots in that short of a span, it’s amazing. But it’s amazing how well Bob can hit the ball. He’s just solid, and he still works at it.”
Hullender counts 24 aces in his career, four in the past year. He said he’s at five double-eagles, the one this month being his first since a practice round at Brookhaven Country Club near Dallas before he won the Texas State Senior Amateur in ’94.
He’s still got that trophy, somewhere along with the others crammed onto that countertop, along the walls of that hallway, or somewhere in his office. But don’t confuse Hullender with a hoarder.
“Everything I have on the wall or displayed,” Hullender said, “is exclusively wins or runnerups. I don’t keep any of the other junk.”
Hullender won’t win a trophy for the five-day run of two aces and a double-eagle. But if there was, Hullender would find a spot for it.