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COLUMN: DeRue comes up aces — and more aces

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | October 6, 2021 11:41 PM

The Ryder Cup has ended gloriously, the leaves are falling decorously and that usually means time is running out to get in that last 18 around these parts.

Or in John DeReu’s case, the next hole-in-one.

For DeReu, a Kalispell resident, it would be his 10th. He got his ninth on Sept. 23 at Village Greens, which is his home course in that he built a home on the course in 1994.

He figures it was 1991 before he really picked up the sticks, at the tender age of 48, playing with a passel of friends once or twice a week. Once he moved onto a course, though, “I pretty much took it up on a much heavier basis.”

For the better part of three decades, he’s come up aces. Eight of them came at Village Greens; another came in Arizona, where the 78-year-old retiree has spent a few winter months.

He used a 9-iron in September to ace the 125-yard No. 5. Among the witnesses was Jack Sollars, who has seen more than one of these feats. Conversely, DeReu saw Sollars get one this year.

“I’ve seen at least three other ones,” DeReu said.

Which brings us to an interesting question: What the heck is in the water hazards at this 6,400-yard course in north Kalispell?

“We must have 20 this year,” said Jess Roper, now in his 17th season as head golf professional and club manager at Village Greens. “We did a board this year. I’d never kept track before. And all of a sudden we have probably 20-plus (aces) this year, which seems pretty high, but maybe not.”

Roper estimates that 150-180 golfers rotate through the course each day during the season, on a layout that includes five par-3s, which is one more than usual. That might help explain this if

anybody had gotten one on No. 4, but nobody has.

DeReu, meanwhile, has so many he can’t remember them all. Luckily he kept the ball after each.

“I got a lot of them early on,” he said. “I was looking through them the other day. The last one came in 2007 — fourteen years. That’s quite a dry spell.”

Roper figures it was 10 years ago that he hired DeReu to be a marshal/ranger — a natural fit for the grandfather of seven and great grandfather of three. His Taylor Mades are never far away.

“You hit some lucky shots once in a while,” said DeReu, who figures he’s an 18 handicap. “They’re always exciting. It’s just something that’s so rare, it doesn’t get old.”

So the man that worked three different stints at Plum Creek Timber keeps coming back to the tee.

“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘How many is that?’ I said, ‘Well, it’s nine. But I want more. You can never be satisfied.”

Roper, Sharpie in hand, can confirm.

“They have a group that plays Monday through Friday, rain or shine,” Roper said Wednesday. “One of them got one today. They were just here buying beers. That one group has had three hole in ones this year.”

Sportswriter Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 758-4463 or at fneighbor@dailyinterlake.com.