Mary Kay Ratterman, 76, has loved the game of golf since she grew up in a golfing family in Anchorage, Ky., just outside of Louisville.
She began playing the game at Owl Creek Golf Course, a nine-hole golf course in a community of approximately 500 people. She said she played to a low handicap through her teen years, but then left the game for about 16 years for college, marriage and raising a family.
“When I started to play, I only used an iron and a putter,” she said.
Although she returned to the game after she and her husband, Woody Ratterman, moved to Cleveland, playing regularly at Cleveland Country Club, she had never scored a hole-in-one ... until Tuesday.
She achieved her lifetime dream while playing with Jola Burch and Janie Robbins, using a 4-hybrid to knock her tee shot into the hole at the 132-yard, par-3 ninth hole.
“I’ve always wanted one (a hole-in-one), and now I’ve got one,” she said. “But, I didn’t see it!”
“With my poor eyesight, I was looking for the golf ball around the green. Then, my playing partners found it at the bottom of the cup,” she said. Neither of the threesome saw the ball go into the hole, but they believe it hit short, rolled onto the putting surface and found the flag at the center of the green.
“When you play this long (70 years), and you get a hole-in-one, it gives you a sense of accomplishment,” she said.
It also gave her some family bragging rights. “I and my oldest son, Steve, are the worst (least accomplished) golfers in the family,” she said in comparing their golfing skills with her husband, son Trey, and son Scotty (who was killed in a traffic accident in 1986). “Ironically, we’re the only two who have a hole-in-one.”
She admitted that it didn’t take long Tuesday to inform the rest of the family of her accomplishment.
She returned to the “scene of the crime” Thursday, playing with Donna Anderson and Sarah Stutz. With a sense of confidence, she hit the same hybrid, rolling the ball onto the left side of the green. Her birdie putt stopped just short of the cup for an easy par ... alas, two strokes worst than her previous round.
The former Mary Kay Phillips said she never gave up on getting a hole-in-one, although she didn’t think she would at her age. “I don’t expect I’ll get another one,” she said, “but you never know. I may be on a streak. You know what they say, ‘Even a blind hog may find an acorn!’”
She has vivid memories of her teen years and involvement in golf. “My brother, Ted, was a good golfer and he and Gay Brewer went back and forth with state titles,” she said. Brewer later turned professional and had a successful career on the PGA and Senior tours. Her brother remains a low handicapper despite knee replacements.
As teenager she caddied for a friend, Mary Lee Kenyon, in competitive events. Kenyon and another local competitor Betty Rowland (now Betty Probasco of Chattanooga) played in a number of state matches, both winning state titles.
Probasco, a Lookout Mountain resident, won four Kentucky Women’s Amateur titles, eight Tennessee Women’s Amateur championships, was the NCAA national champion in 1950, won the Women’s Southern Amateur in 1955, was selected to the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1956 and was named Ryder Cup captain in 1962. She was inducted into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.
The country club’s latest hole-in-one achiever has a little advice for golfers who have never scored an ace. “Don’t give up,” she said. “It can happen to anybody. It happened to me.”