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Duke Ties Hole-in-One Record With 11th of the Year

Times Staff Writer

She thought that it was over, that the streak of good fortune that made her a celebrity had finally run its course.

No more holes in one meant no more interviews. No more disbelievers. No more pressure.

And it meant relief.

But Wednesday morning on hole 15 at the Saticoy Regional Golf Course, Duke once again swept back her 7-wood and let one fly. About 132 yards down the course, the ball landed to the left of the flag and rolled down a slope to the right. When it came to rest, her world had become complicated all over again.

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Another ace. No. 11 this year. That ties a record for most within a calendar year set in 1962 by Dr. Boyd Stone of Bakersfield. It means Duke has 188 days to make the record hers.

So much for those leisurely hours playing a friendly game of golf with a few friends. The pressure is on again.

From Sept. 22, 1984, to April 23, 1985, Donna Duke made 12 holes in one. Ten had come this year since Jan. 16. For each of the dozen aces, she had at least a dozen doubters. The publisher of the Guinness Book of World Records called her feat “freakish.”

But then--finally--came a respite.

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Two months and two days passed without an ace. It was heaven.

“I thought it (the streak) was over. I thought I had run dry,” Duke said in a telephone interview from her Camarillo home. “I was looking forward to not thinking about it all the time. All the newspaper and television interviews were over, and I had finally realized what I had accomplished.

“I knew I needed one more to tie the record, and there was a lot of pressure with that, but not nearly as much as I feel now. One more and the record is mine. I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it every time I tee off now.”

Of Duke’s 13 aces, five have come at Saticoy, including two of the last three. Four have come at Camarillo Springs, her home course.

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Each of her holes in one have been verified by at least three other golfers, who have signed certification cards at the course.

The card is then signed by the course’s pro and sent to Golf Digest magazine, which checks with each witness before verifying the ace.

Duke, 54, is not a professional golfer and never was. She’s a retired civil-service worker who plays golf two or three times a week. She played 14 years before the start of the streak and never had an ace.

The odds of an average golfer making a hole in one in a single round are 8,000 to 1. There is no listing on the odds of hitting 13 in nine months.

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And so the question rages on. How?

Duke is a good golfer--a 15 handicapper. But she is the first to admit that the major factor in her string of aces has been luck.

“I thought maybe the stars were just lined up in my favor,” Duke said. “I had this tremendous streak of luck, then I didn’t do it for two months. I thought it was finally over. I was wrong.”

Perhaps the only person more perplexed than Donna Duke by the feats of Donna Duke is a local trophy maker. One of the showcases in Duke’s home holds a trophy that was designed to display the balls she used for her first six aces. When the streak hit 11, there was no more room.

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When No. 12 came, Duke said: “I guess we’ll have to add a tier.”

And now? Well, maybe it will take more than one.

DONNA DUKE: 13 HOLES IN ONE

No. Date Course Hole Length Club

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1 9-22-84 Ojai Valley 17th 110 yards 7 iron 2 11-11-8 Kauai Surf Club 17th 139 yards 5 iron 3 1-16-85 Saticoy Regional 16th 194 yards 3 wood 4 1-21-85 Clark/Pt. Magu 11th 153 yards 7 iron 5 1-22-85 Camarillo Springs 12th 163 yards 7 wood 6 1-23-85 Saticoy Regional 16th 194 yards 5 wood 7 1-30-85 Saticoy Regional 7th 213 yards driver 8 3-5-85 Camarillo Springs 15th 134 yards 6 iron 9 3-12-85 Camarillo Springs 12th 163 yards 5 wood 10 3-21-85 North Kern County 7th 135 yards 6 iron 11 4-1-85 Saticoy Regional 8th 160 yards 7 wood 12 4-23-85 Camarillo Springs 7th 140 yards 7 wood 13 6-26-85 Saticoy Regional 15th 132 yards 7 wood

The 62 days since last ace is longest dry spell since streak began.

Duke had not shot an ace in 14 years of golfing previous to 1984.

She has 188 days to break record for aces in a calendar year. Dr. Boyd Stone of Bakersfield had 11 in 1962. Duke has 11 this year.

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