Harold Loyd’s had many an ace up his sleeve of balls, and his good fortune has left holes in the hearts of golfing buddies.
The 88-year-old Loyd made his fifth hole-in-one last week at the Crossings Golf Club, just several years removed from cataract surgery.
“Tom Jones and I had got to where we couldn’t see where the ball went when we hit it,” Loyd said. “I don’t read putts as well now, but I can still see the ball to hit it.”
He used a metal wood for last week’s ace on an uphill par 3.
“It hit the crest and kind of hopped up going (on line),” said Loyd’s son Lynn Lloyd (they spell the last name differently). “I said, ‘That ball’s running right at it. That ball disappeared. That ball went in.’”
Bill Honeycutt also witnessed Loyd’s most recent ace, as well as one he made on No. 17 three or four years ago at Buffalo Valley.
“I’ve played 40-some years and come close but never had one,” Honeycutt said. “He’s had five aces and didn’t start playing until he was probably at least 40. And I don’t know if he can see over 100 yards. …
“It was great to see (last week). We were all hooting and hollering and Harold was just grinning like, ‘So what.’ It was almost ho-hum for him.”
Loyd’s first ace came on No. 2 at Pine Oaks, probably in the late 1970s or early ‘80s.
“Charlie Miller had hit one within a few feet,” Loyd said, “and then I hit one that went in on the fly.”
Loyd’s second and third holes-in-one were in North Carolina, the latter of which came at Seven Devils Golf Club. Lynn and Jim Giles were playing with Loyd that day.
Loyd said a couple of former golfing mates, Dave and Carl Sluder, each had at least twice as many aces as he has. Dave even started collecting $5 from partners after aces. That old tradition returned to mind when Loyd made the ace a few years back at Buffalo Valley.
“I saw the one at Buffalo Valley, too,” said Honeycutt, who describes Loyd as a second father. “It went in and all he said was, ‘That’ll be five dollars boys.’”
Loyd laughed at the memory.
“And Bill just reached in his pocket and took out five dollars and handed it to me,” Loyd said. “Lynn didn’t … but he probably paid for my golf.”
Loyd frequently shot in the upper 70s at his peak.
“The strength in dad’s game has always been he knows what he can do and doesn’t try to do what he can’t,” Lynn said.
A favorite memory of Loyd’s was winning a tournament at Graysburg Hills when he shot 1- or 2-over par. He found out it was good enough to have beaten Billy Jack Smith in a scorecard playoff when he received $100 a day or two later.
Loyd, who has played all over the Carolinas, still rates Graysburg among his favorites. He is fond of The Cliffs near Greenville, S.C., too.
Loyd lives in Jonesborough and can often be found playing Rook at Pioneer Market. He went to Lamar High School, and pitched baseball for Lamar in community leagues against teams from Conklin, Telford, Greene County, etc. His opponents included everyone from former major-leaguer Jim Constable to Science Hill football legend Kermit Tipton.
“Jim Constable was a great pitcher,” Loyd said. “Our left-hander was John Bacon. He’d pitch on Saturdays and I’d pitch on Sunday.”
Loyd said he pitched a no-hitter. He extended his pitching career by becoming a knuckleballer. He chuckles remembering umpires smiling at batters’ swings that didn’t come close to balls, and laughs even harder when remembering catchers good-naturedly grumbling when he’d shake off sign after sign until they accepted the fact a knuckleball was coming.
Now, Loyd tries to sell his great grandson, David Crockett pitcher Austin Casey, on the knuckleball, not that he’s made much headway.
“It’s tough because you need to throw it a certain speed to get good movement,” Loyd said. “My dad played ball with the community clubs, too. We played at the soldiers’ home (Mountain Home in Johnson City). That was a good ballpark, a good grandstand. I remember playing against Pappy (Manuel) Crowe and his son, Pappy, who went on to coach and work at the Boys Club.”
Lynn loved watching his father pitch when he was boy, and he took it hard when Loyd gave it up, probably when he was in his upper 30s.
“But that’s really what led to golf,” Lynn said. “And it’s been a joy to be able to play so much with him.”
Lynn and Honeycutt just wish Loyd would persuade the golf gods to slice them a share of the wealth. Lynn hit one an inch or two from the hole at a course in Alcoa some 20 years ago.
“I’ve been close, had one on the lip, but never made one,” Lynn said. “But I’ve been there for three of his … and that is hard to beat.”