PITTSBURGH -- Steve Blass has been playing golf for a long time, since before he became a World Series-winning pitcher for the Pirates. In all that time, Blass had recorded just one hole in one at a course in Florida that no longer exists.
Until that day in 2009 at a Pirates alumni golf outing, that is.
Blass had two holes in one in the same round -- 11 holes apart -- at Greensburg Country Club, a feat so uncommon that Golf Digest lists the odds of that happening as 67,000-to-1.
Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle at the Masters -- one of the rarest occurrences in golf -- is considered to have odds of a million-to-1.
"When I was driving home, I was still so numb, still shaking," Blass said. "It was like after the World Series -- I was too thrilled to get drunk."
He is not alone.
Alonzo Shavers, a former college football player at Ohio State, had been playing golf for 14 years without a hole in one. Then, in one afternoon, he made two -- only four holes apart -- at Treesdale Golf & Country Club.
Shavers, a sports agent based in Columbus, Ohio, was playing in Tony Dorsett's annual charity tournament when he performed the rare feat. He won a car for the first one, a golf trip for the second.
"It could have been a plaque, it wouldn't have mattered to me," Shavers said. "I sat in the cart and I didn't say anything. I just sat there thinking, 'Did that just happen?' "
Consider the story of the late Phyllis Semple, mother of decorated amateur Carol Semple Thompson of Sewickley and winner of several women's club championships at Allegheny Country Club.
She had four aces in her lifetime, none since 1967, when she had two in the same round on an 18-hole par-3 course in Delray Beach, Fla., in 2007. After going 40 years without one, Semple had two in four holes.
She was 85 at the time.
There's no formula
Why does it happen?
Why do some golfers who are so impassioned to play never record a hole in one? And why do others suddenly get two in one day?
Why do some weekend hackers get a hole in one and some PGA Tour players have none?
"It's luck," said PGA Tour rookie Bud Cauley, who is 22 but already has six holes in one, three in competition. "You have to hit a good shot, but it's a lot of luck, too."
For most players, there is no greater claim to fame than recording a hole in one. And, if players are lucky to have one, they never forget the moment.
Some golfers can't tell you the age of their children or where they vacationed last. But, ask them if they ever had a hole in one, and they can recite the course, hole, year, club and yardage without hesitation. Some obituaries list holes in one as one of the deceased's lifetime achievements.
It has been a longtime joke that no employee wants to have a hole in one on the day he told his boss he was going to a funeral.
Of course, professional players are more likely to record a hole in one than amateur players or casual weekend golfers. They are more skilled, more apt to hit the ball at the hole and play countless rounds of golf.
According to usholeinone.com, which insures hole-in-one contests, the odds of getting an ace on a par-3 are 12,500-to-1 for an amateur, 7,500-to-1 for a pro.
But, then, how do you explain local PGA professional Sean Parees having only one hole in one in 44 years of playing and 8-handicap Mo Phanse of Pittsburgh having four aces in 24 years? Or Robert Morris assistant coach Ed Pockl Jr. having one ace in 57 years and Jordan Quinn of Steubenville, Ohio, having two in just eight years of playing?
Luck or skill?
"I think it's a little of both," Parees said. "The skill gives you more opportunity because you're going to hit more close to the hole. And there's a little bit of luck for it to actually go in."
Don't forget the pros -- great players have recorded great numbers of aces.
Jack Nicklaus, maybe the greatest golfer of all, has 20 holes in one, though he hasn't had one in the past nine years.
Gary Player has 19. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods each have 18, though Woods (36) is less than half Palmer's age (82).
Despite the talent and number of shots on the pro tours, it's not as though holes in one are an everyday commodity.
There were 23 holes in one of the PGA Tour last year compared to 39 in 2010. The Nationwide Tour had 21 aces in '11, 25 the year before. And the Champions Tour had five each in '10 and '11.
There are some outrageous claims of the number of holes in one, too. The North Korean Ministry of Information claims that dictator Kim Jong Il had 11 holes in one -- in his first round.
Compare that to the U.S. presidency, where only three -- Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford -- have recorded a hole in one.
Finally there is 1959 Masters champion Art Wall, who had 45 holes in one, including casual rounds, during his PGA Tour playing career.
That's a lot of lucky bounces.