WARREN - A hole-in-one started to become a white whale to Josh Guthrie.
He's been golfing since he could walk, and even competed at Seton Hill College, but that one moment in time when every element of the swing, the winds, and bounces come together teased him, but never embraced him with its unique success mixed with skill and fate.
Then the moment came - and on the most unlikeliest of stages: the No. 6 at Northwood Golf Club, a treacherous 380-yard par 4 with a dogleg left.
Tribune Chronicle / Vince Taddei
Josh Guthrie, who is from Kittanning, Pa., and doing his student teaching at McGuffey Elementary (Warren City Schools), recently made a hole-in-one on No. 6 — a 380-yard, par 4 at Northwood Golf Club in Warren.
"It's a blind shot - you have to carry it 280 just to clear the trees in front of you," Guthrie said. "I had no idea where I hit it, so I hit the provisional with everybody else."
He then went on the green to line up his putt when Scott Kalman, a member of Guthrie's group, noticed a ball in the hole. It just happened to be a Titleist NXT with a logo.
"It was his last ball - he was golfing so poorly that he hit his balls in the trees," Northwood owner Ryan Norris said. "I thought the shot took too tight of a line, so he borrowed the ball."
The moment was finally there for Guthrie, but unfortunately for him, it was roughly 30 seconds of bickering between the group, which also consisted of Steve Mines.
"We all just stood there looking at each other, and then we broke out in this big discussion," said Guthrie, who is from Kittanning, Pa. "These guys are always busting on me, so I didn't know if it was a joke."
During the exchange, something anchored Guthrie's feelings, which told him that it may actually be happening.
"Scott Kalman found the ball - he's the only reason I started to believe it was real," he said. "He's a retired police chief, and he's very honest. He also doesn't joke around that much, so if anyone else found the ball, I may've never believed it."
To add to the mystery, the shot occurred on April Fools' Day.
"Even though it ended up being true, I didn't believe it for an entire day," Guthrie said. "I kept thinking that if I get there the next day and they all shout 'April fools!' I'm going to be pretty mad."
Norris understood Guthrie's apprehension.
"We make fun of him a lot around here," he said. "He's easily the best golfer here, but I can see why he didn't believe it for a long time after he hit it - it's actually pretty funny."
When the realization finally set in for Guthrie, he wasn't immediately left with the satisfaction of doing what many golfers dream of doing.
"I was actually more relieved that these guys won't be making fun of me any more for never hitting a hole-in-one," he said. "Now that I'm on that wall, they can't bust on me about it any more."
Not only do the guys have to stop busting on him, they have to praise him more, because a hole-in-one on a par 4 has only happened twice on the PGA Tour.
"Without bragging - because most of it is complete luck - but there is skill involved," Guthrie said. "That gives me some satisfaction that I lined up that shot, and hit it good enough for that to have to happen."
It definitely happened for Guthrie, who also pitched for Seton Hill and owns the fourth lowest earned-run average in school history. That experience also gave him another perspective on the hole-in-one.
"Golf is something I want to do for the rest of my life," said Guthrie, who is finishing up his Master's degree in elementary education with a student-teaching job at McGuffey Elementary (Warren City Schools). "So I'm happy this happened sooner rather than later. Like a great pitcher who never threw a no-hitter, I don't ever want to be left thinking 'What if?' "