It’s an unlucky number for a lucky sports trick – 13 holes in one.
Kent Frandsen only gives luck partial credit.
“The better you are, the more likely you are to make one. It’s that simple,” said Frandsen, 65, who holed his first ace at age 18 and his 13th two years ago. “It takes luck to make the shot. But if you hit balls on the green all the time, you have a much better chance at having one go in.”
In other words (Frandsen doesn’t want to brag on himself), there is some major skill involved in draining holes with one swing of an iron or wedge. Frandsen is a scratch golfer. He’s also a three-time Indiana state amateur champion. He’s also in the Indiana State Golf Hall of Fame.
But, perhaps, the most wonderful golf fact about him is this: Frandsen is a partner at the law firm Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse.
Parr. No joke.
As Frandsen sat overlooking the 18th green at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel last week, it was clear why he was the man picked to help head up one of professional golf’s biggest events of the year, the BMW PGA Championship.
Frandsen, a member at Crooked Stick — and at Ulen Country Club in Lebanon and at Pine Valley Golf Club in Clementon, N.J. — is in charge of the operations of this huge production that’s been three years in the making.
More than 2,500 volunteers will help put on the tournament Sept. 8-11, which is expected to bring more than 150,000 people to the course and have a $30 million economic impact.
“The PGA is a traveling circus,” said Frandsen, who is co-chairing the championship with John Crisp. “It’s a circus, just going from city to city — players and caddies and officials and media.”
He walked, he watched and he learned. Then he played. Frandsen’s first set of golf clubs wasn’t complete. He got them at Ayr-Way, a 1960s discount store, a precursor to Wal-Mart, started by department store L.S. Ayres.
By the time he was 15, he had broken par. He played No. 1 his senior year at Lebanon High School and got a full ride to Indiana University, where he was the team’s captain. Besides those three state amateur titles, he’s had plenty of national and regional titles sprinkled in during his 53 years of golf.
Frandsen said he feels like guiding the BMW Championship is the perfect spot for him.
“I’ve played in a lot of golf tournaments and I’ve been to a lot of great golf courses so I have some experience as to what it ought to look like and how it ought to work,” said Frandsen, who is married to Charlotte and has two grown children, a son and a daughter. “I enjoy watching professional golfers play golf. It’s fun when they come to your town and you can watch them play first hand.”
He’s gotten to watch plenty. Frandsen has had a hand in hosting 10 national championships at Crooked Stick since 1981, including the BMW four years ago. IndyStar chatted with him about his latest. (Dana Hunsinger Benbow, IndyStar, August 23, 2016)
Question: Why Crooked Stick for the honor?
Answer: “It’s a championship golf course. It has the physical challenge for the players,” said Frandsen, adding that the elite course was designed by Pete Dye in the early 1960s. “We have a membership that is supportive and we have enough land to do this. It’s a good enough golf course that the PGA tour wants to come here. They could have gone anywhere. The BMW folks and the Western Golf Association folks chose Indianapolis, chose Crooked Stick. So, it’s a feather in the city’s cap as well as Crooked Stick’s cap.”
Q: Why is this tournament such a big deal?
A: First of all, it leads to a $10 million prize. The BMW is part of the FedEx Cup, a four-tournament series that is a season-long competition. Crooked Stick is the third stop of the four. The FedEx starts with 125 players and, by the time it comes to Carmel, 70 golfers will be competing. The top 30 are taken from the BMW Championship to play for that $10 million first place pot.
“The FedEx Cup is the Super Bowl of the PGA tour,” Frandsen said.
Q:Player to watch?
A: “Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are probably the three best players in the world right now,” Frandsen said. “I would say Dustin Johnson would be my favorite. I think he will be the hardest one to beat on this course because he’s a long hitter and this golf course rewards long hitters.”
“Which is very long, but it’s not long enough for these guys,” Frandsen said. “These guys hit it so far it’s incredible. They just keep getting longer and longer.”
Q: How has the game changed in your 53 years of playing?
A: “The equipment is much better today. The balls are much more lively. They go farther. They’re more consistent,” he said. “The clubs are lighter. As a result, you can swing faster. The physics of the game have changed a lot. It’s a complicated balance of various factors but (today’s players) grew up swinging harder because the clubs allowed them to mishit the ball and it still flies straight. When I was a kid, the ball would curve off and it would never be seen again. Now, they play a ball that’s like a super ball. Now the guy that hits it the hardest is the guy that can win.”
Q: Whackiest shot you’ve hit?
A: “I can’t really think of one. I’ve had several bad ones,” Frandsen said. “Just this last week I played in a golf tournament and I played the holes out of order and was disqualified.”
Q: Advice for golfers whose games just won’t improve?
A: “Take lessons from somebody who knows how to teach. That’s not me, for example,” Frandsen said. “I’m a good golfer, but I’m not a great teacher. Anyone can get better if they’re willing to work at it. But it does take work and it takes time and effort. It’s not a natural motion. And it’s very hard to be good at golf if you don’t play. If you don’t have time to devote to golf you’ll never be a really good player.”
Q: So really, skill outweighs luck in hole in ones?
A: “OK. It’s not a perfect theory,” Frandsen said. “You’ll find guys that are really good that have hardly ever made any. And you’ll have some chopper that has made two.”