Three transplants saved my life and have given me the time and good health to play the sport I love the most. Golf can be infuriating, without a doubt, but it does lend itself to pondering the big questions as you walk from hole to hole (and try to make your way out of a sand trap, too).
In those long walks on the course, I have contemplated this question: what’s rarer? A triple transplant, or three holes-in-one?
You see, I’ve been the beneficiary of both. To state the obvious, it takes a lot of luck. For those who golf, you understand the reality of how rare holes-in-one are. Most people that play golf their entire life may never get one hole-in-one, let alone three. They may never even get close. It is so rare that when you do, the golf course usually buys drinks for everyone – that’s a long held tradition. In fact, they have hole-in-one insurance so in case you should get one, you’re not stuck with a huge bar tab. By definition, a hole-in-one is a tee shot on a three par when the ball goes directly into the cup (hole). It is one of the most exciting events in sports. It is more a function of luck versus skill. Even professional golfers rarely get them. I’ve had three! And believe me, I’m no pro golfer.
I got my first ace back in 1994 at a country club located near where I live in Calabasas, California. Then five years later (almost to the day and with the same group of guys), I shot my second ace – incredibly on the same hole. They put a plaque up in the dining room of the country club on my behalf.
Remarkably, two years later at a course in Palos Verde called Trump National Golf Club, I got my third hole in one. As a reward, the golf club sent me the actual flag stick signed by none other than our current President, Donald Trump. I couldn’t have imagined at the time that he would one day be in the Oval Office. That flag has certainly increased in value.
Three holes-in-one are certainly something to behold, considering I’m your basic weekend duffer who doesn’t take golf all that seriously. This frustrates many superior golfers who practice and sweat and work much harder without achieving hole-in-one status. Perhaps that is why the Golf Gods have been so kind to me? I also have another triple milestone that I’m quite proud of, but this is more of a life changing variety. This would be my three transplants (heart, kidney, and pancreas) which were gifted to me back in 2005. Rare? You bet it is! Lucky? You bet I am!
Both triples, the holes-in-one and the transplants, share a common feature – incredible good fortune. Without a little lady luck, neither could have happened.
Back to my original question though – between the two, which is rarer? According to Golf Digest, the odds for an amateur is 12,500 to one of getting a hole-in-one. There are no stated odds of getting THREE holes-in-one.
Triple transplants are so rare, it’s hard to find any research on long-term survival. So, I’m making it up as I go along, listening to my doctors, and taking great care of these gifts. I guess you could say every day post-triple transplant is a hole-in-one—if you wake up in the morning, take a deep breath, and get to spend time with the people you love, it’s an ace.
In the universe I would say that between the Gods of Golf and the Gods of Life, I would put my money on the later. As to which is rarer? I’m going with the triple transplant. In fact, I’d bet my life on it!