His peers often refer to him as the “hole-in-one man,” which is the label he’s written on an an empty Ensure bottle he uses to store his golf tees.
“I wrote that down so nobody will try to take them,” Nevada native Jim Bush said, smiling. “I also really like Ensure. It’s a really good drink.”
At age 84, the soft-spoken, reserved Bush has become a living legend around the town of Nevada due to his recent feats at Frank E. Peters Municipal Golf Course. In the past 13 years, the retired state park superintendent has registered three aces on the course — each coming at the par-3 11th hole.
“Even talking about it now, it still seems unreal,” Bush said. “Fourteen years ago, I would have told you I’d never have one (hole-in-one). I really didn’t think I’d have three after turning 71.”
The most recent ace came on June 12 when Bush was partaking in his first round of the year with his friend, Dale Smith.
“I don’t make it out to the course as much as I used to because I’m caring for my wife (Bertha Bush),” he said. “But every once in a while, I’ll come out and play nine holes. I always play the back nine.”
Bush approached the tee box on his lucky 11th hole with the intention of just hitting the green. With two hole-in-ones under his belt already, he figured the chances of him acing a third were slim to none.
From the senior tees, 130 yards from the hole, Bush elected to go with a driver. Upon his swing, he knew he had put a good strike on the ball. However, his vision wasn’t what it used to be. So he never saw the ball as it soared just left of the water hazard, took a couple of favorable hops near the fringe and then trickled up toward the hole on the front-right portion of the green.
“I just started walking back to the cart while the ball was still in flight,” Bush said. “Dale was watching it the whole way, and he yelled out to me that he thought it was going to be a good one — probably within a couple feet.”
The pair drove up to the green and were bewildered when they realized Bush’s ball was nowhere in sight. The two began to search. And a few minutes later, Smith called out to Bush.
“Do you mind getting your ball out of this dang hole so I can putt?” Smith shouted out to Bush.
Bush recalls his first ace just as vividly as his last. It occurred back in 2006, when he used a driver from the men’s tees to send a 160-yard shot directly at the pin.
“The funny thing is it looked like the ball had settled right next to the hole,” said Bush, who was paired with another friend, David Grubb, during the round. “You could see it sitting there. It wasn’t in the hole when we left the tee box.”
As Bush and Grubb approached the green, they saw that the ball was wedged between the pin and the edge of the cup. But moments later, the ball dropped once a subtle breeze moved the pin just enough to dislodge it, giving Bush his first ace at the age of 71.
“That was back when I was about 187 pounds and could still hit it a ways,” Bush said. “I’ve lost some weight and power with my swing since then. So, now I try to play a little smarter, and with a smoother swing.”
Bush, born and raised in Anderson, Missouri, said he logged his second hole-in-one eight years later at age 79. That shot — like his ace last month — was hit with a driver from the senior tees.
“I’ve loved golf ever since my brother-in-law taught me how to play decades ago,” Bush said. “I’m not the greatest at it and don’t try to be. But the chance at hitting the perfect shot is what keeps me coming back. You know, a lot of people go there whole lives without a hole-in-one. I just feel blessed to have experienced three.”
And if Bush’s recent trend continues, perhaps a fourth ace is just around the corner.