By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN – Golfers can play the game their whole lives and not experience the absolute joy of making a hole-in-one.
Middletown’s Derek Frame can’t say he’s missing out.
Playing in a scramble last month at the Golf Club at Oxford Greens, the four-year player at Middletown High made his first ace.
“It was the top thing on my bucket list,” he said. “I’ve definitely come close before. I lipped out a few times.”
At Oxford’s 16th hole, a 172-yard straightaway with a big, kidney-shaped green, Frame pulled out a 7-iron.
“I hit it really good, a little draw like I usually play, and it landed front-ish middle,” he said. “The pin was in the back and the ball landed right of the pin. It rolled to the left a little and kept going, trickling, trickling, and dropped right in.
“When I hit it, the others in my group thought it was a pretty good shot and should be close to the hole. When it dropped in, the club fell out of my hands and I was in shock. They almost tackled me and just started yelling.”
There was more than the thrill of holing out. On that particular hole of this tournament, the prize for a hole-in-one was a Cobra driver, a 3-wood and a stay at the Saddlebrook Resort & Spa in Tampa, Florida.
He cleaned up, all right.
Frame was an All-State player at Middletown High as a junior. He was primed for another big season in 2017, but he broke his hand in gym class midway the spring season and could not play.
This summer he’s played three to four times a week and in amateur events around the state when able.
While he was playing at MHS, the golf program was in danger of being cut for budget reasons.
“We didn’t have a coach or many players. I had to go out and recruit a bunch of my friends to play,” he said. “Probably the most rewarding thing for me while I was a player was helping to keep (the program) going.”
Frame is just days away from beginning his junior year at Bryant University in Rhode Island, where he is studying finance. He is a member of Bryant’s club golf team and its treasurer, and he’s trying to make it a better organization than when he found it as a freshman.
Bryant’s club plays three tournaments each semester against other club teams in the region, such as UConn, Harvard, Providence and Brown.
“It used to be we’d just go out and play nine holes, but me and another kid were able to make it into a competitive golf team,” he said.
They connected with Nextgengolf, a company that organizes tournaments, to find events to play.
“Now we take eight players to tournaments,” Frame said. “Now that I’m in a club in college, it’s cool. In high school you had teachers showing you what to do, but in college it’s all up to you. It’s a good experience and good for the resume.”
Frame’s bucket list also includes playing a round someday at Pebble Beach. He believes the game will always be something that defines who he is.
“I love it. I just want to play my whole life and do something with it,” he said. “It’s probably not going to be my career or anything like that, but I just enjoy it so much, sports in general, just the competitiveness of it.”
Paul Augeri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org