Tiger Woods announced his arrival to the PGA tour with a bang, sinking a hole-in-one at his very first pro event. Now, that ball he struck with the fateful 6-iron can be yours.
Heritage Auctions is currently offering the Titleist Woods aced back in 1996—with bidding open for the next two weeks—and the ball is expected to fetch more than $50,000, Golf reported. It’s a rare bit of memorabilia, because while Woods has won 82 PGA tournaments and 15 majors, he’s hit only two more holes-in-one at PGA events in the 26 years since.
“It’s difficult to equate the significance of this ball to something in another sport,” Chris Nerat, the sports consignment director at the auction house, said in a statement. “This is more than just someone hitting a home run or scoring a touchdown in his first game, because those things, while exceedingly difficult and impressive, happen far more frequently than a hole-in-one.”
The story behind the ball is pretty good, too. It has been owned for the past 26 years by Bob Gustin, who really lucked into becoming the recipient of one of history’s most important golf balls. He had attended Woods’s pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open with his brother-in-law, David Beck. The two were part of a crowd that persuaded Woods to throw them the ball after he’d aced the 14th hole.
Beck reached for the ball, deflected it and ended up in Gustin’s possession. Even better, the director of the tournament assisted in getting the ball signed by Woods, making it even more valuable.
While Gustin has loved being the proud owner of the Woods memorabilia, he’s ready to pass it on to someone else. But with the sale, he’s paying it back to the family member who helped him become the owner in the first place.
“Whatever it goes for, I’m splitting that with my brother-in-law, David,” he said in a statement. “He’s the one who it deflected off of before it came to me. We both had a part in me ending up with this ball, so we’ll both enjoy it after it goes to someone else.”