Reporting Shane Kitzman
Until Tiger Woods hits his next hole-in-one, he’s still behind an 83-year-old from Cloquet, Minn.
Golf Digest puts the odds for an average golfer knocking it home in one stroke at 12,000 to 1.
Given he’s has accomplished the feat 19 times, you don’t need to tell Galliart how rare his golf game is.
“I’m very proud, and very happy that I’m able to get that many aces,” Galliart said. “Some people don’t get any and they play a lot. I will keep trying, and if I get more, I’ll be happy as heck.”
Galliart’s summers are sweet – he hops on his golf cart and cruises the mile from his Big Lake residence to Big Lake Golf Club’s par-3 course, putting in about 150 rounds during the sunny months in Minnesota.
Galliart’s winters are wonderful – he tallies almost 200 rounds while staying at Gold Canyon RV & Golf Resort in Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Though impressive, he’s nowhere near Norman Manley of California, who has netted a record 59 aces.
Galliart’s first ace took place in 1979 at Pine Hill Golf Course outside of Carlton, Minn. His next 17 were celebrated in Arizona.
The most recent hole-in-one came on July 4 at Big Lake, with his daughter Rhonda Martinson witnessing him punch it in from 142 yards out on hole No. 9. Galliart has had a witness for all his aces, and the majority occurred on a hole that’s less than 100 yards.
A wedge or a nine iron had been his usual weapon of choice for hole-in-ones. But lately, Father Time has caught up with the golfer, who had a 5 handicap in years’ past, as his Independence Day triumph was with a 3 wood.
“When I take a full swing now, I’m happy if I hit 150 or 175 yards,” he said. “The accuracy is still fine — I’m down the middle. But the distance has decreased with age.”
Ever since retiring in 1985 as an administrative supervisor for Northern Natural Gas Company, Galliart has had some quality time on the green with family, friends and would-be competitors.
The most astounding part? Galliart’s left arm never properly formed, and so much of his swing’s power comes from his right arm.
When did you pick up the game? Why?
In 1955, I read an instruction booklet by Jack Nicklaus. I read it and applied it to my skills. I watched other golfers and tried to copy what they do.
What’s the strongest part of your game now?
I still get the chip shot in there nice and close. Chipping is my strength, and putting saves me.
Who do you like playing rounds with?
My wife (Sue), and my stepchildren — and all kinds of retirees when we’re in Arizona. We play league in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
How did you react to your first hole-in-one, compared to your 19th?
For the first one, I jumped up and down and screamed to the witness. On my 19th (hole-in-one), I was playing with my daughter (Rhonda Martinson), and while I jumped up and down, I think Rhonda jumped higher than I did. Each hole has had a witness, some have been more excited than I.
What keeps you playing day in, day out?
The quiet – it’s relaxing. It’s a challenge each time I go on the golf course. And I feel good about going out and getting the exercise. In Arizona, we walk the course. In Minnesota, we ride the cart.
Are you one of the better players when you’re down in Arizona?
I’ve checked the records and I’ve won all three flights there – the A-handicap (up to 4), the B-handicap (5 to 8) and the C-handicap (9 and up). I just recently won the C-flight, too.
How does it feel to know you’re one ace behind one of your favorite golfers – Jack Nicklaus (20)?
Ooooh. I will say, if I can pull 20, I’ll take it. Last summer, I was a hand’s width away from No. 20 on the No. 9 hole at Gold Canyon.