2011-08-18 / News

Island woman gets three holes-in-one in 12-month span on same hole

BY GEOFF CAMPBELL


Ning Gotauco and husband Chet married in 2003 and have been regulars at the Jamestown Golf Course together since. Ning, who grew up in Bacolod City, Philippines, says she shoots between 78 and 82 for 18 holes. Ning Gotauco and husband Chet married in 2003 and have been regulars at the Jamestown Golf Course together since. Ning, who grew up in Bacolod City, Philippines, says she shoots between 78 and 82 for 18 holes. She used a six iron the first time she aced the fifth hole at Jamestown Golf Course.

A year and 10 days later, it was a seven-iron hybrid, and exactly one week after that it was the same club, on the same hole, playing with the same foursome.

Gina Gotauco – Ning to her family and friends – didn’t think that she would ever score a hole-inone. She appeared both surprised and delighted to own three in just over 12 months.

For her first ace in 2010, Gotauco was on the course with her husband and a friend from Newport. They were approaching the fifth hole in the early part of the afternoon and the wind was coming up. “I hit the ball way, way up high, and it landed on the green, 20 feet away from the hole,” Gotauco said. “It turned a little bit and into the hole.”

Chet Gotauco, self described “husband of the champion,” said that for the two aces struck by his wife this season, “The pin was set way back in both counts.”

“Two weeks ago the pin was, I believe, on the left side of the green,” he said. “[The ball] landed and ran up and turned to the left and they just watched it gracefully go across the green and she thought it was too long. It just disappeared.”

Gotauco said that she couldn’t believe it when she approached the hole and saw that the ball was in the cup. The fifth hole plays from north to south, 114 yards from the women’s tee to the cup. Under par for the day after seven holes, she unfortunately bogeyed the eighth and ninth holes to finish even for the day.

Gotauco said she loves golf. She links her love for the game to her desire to improve. She said that as she first began to par holes, she grew committed to earning birdies and eagles. She is also quick to acknowledge the role luck plays in the outcome of the game, referring to her hole-in-one as a “miracle shot.”

Not one to throw a club or curse, Gotauco said that she is able to stay calm even after an unfortunate shot and tends not to let a bad day on the course color the rest of her day. Both Ning and Chet agree that the game is about having fun. Gotauco said, “I have a good time with friendly people.”

She first picked up a club in 2003 and now plays at least two or three times a week. Gotauco said that she consistently shoots between 78 and 82, and her husband said that his game is “about the same.”

She has been playing eight years in the ladies’ league in Jamestown. Encouraged by her steady improvement, Gotauco sees her progression as a series of steps. First she began to consistently shoot par, and then she said she added a dependable approach shot to her repertoire. Gotauco plays in the league that takes to the links every Tuesday. Twenty-eight golfers form seven foursomes and they play all season long. Rarely placed in the same group week to week, Gotauco was surprised that the foursome that witnessed her first hole-in-one of the year shared the déjà vu moment a week later.

Born in Bacolod City in the Philippines, Gotauco comes from a family of six siblings and a life that she described as “simple.” Growing up speaking only the Ilonggo dialect of her island, she is multilingual.

She worked for several years as an in-home chef and then went to Malaysia where she continued to refine her culinary skills. After seven years away from family, Gotauco said that she returned to Bacolod City to open a small business retailing beauty products and women’s clothing accessories.

Ning and Chet have written a love story that began in the late 1990s. It began on one of Chet’s visits to his sister who lives in the Philippines, a place where he also played golf on some of the country’s most beautiful courses.

“Chet is the one that taught me how to play golf,” Gotauco said. A mutual and good-natured rivalry came to light when asked who the best golfer is.

Chet said, “I think that we are both pretty sharp now because we are competing for who is going to be number one at the end of this year.”

“It’s neck and neck,” he added with a smile.

Chet Gotauco said that upon returning to the Philippines after learning golf in Jamestown, his wife “gave everyone a challenge.” He explained that the second year she was golfing, “I was following her around the course. She was hitting them long and straight and I was struggling and scrambling just to keep up.”

He said that he is still waiting for the quality of her play to plateau and for her to develop the typical bad habits that confound every golfer. But, he said, that hasn’t happened yet.

“I am a lucky guy,” he said, “to have a wife that loves the sport. We get up in the morning and we’ll go. We support each other.”

The couple settled in Jamestown where Chet had been a homeowner since the early 1970s. Ning and Chet married in 2003 and Ning moved to Jamestown with her son Vincent, a 2007 graduate of North Kingstown High School. Ning said that Jamestown is “a paradise. It’s an amazing place.”

Not confined to playing the island links, Ning and Chet are also frequent players at Richmond Country Club, Meadowbrook, Quonset, Rolling Greens and on occasion Newport National. But it was in Jamestown at the Jamestown Golf Course that Ning started down the cart path to golf success.

Her best advice to other golfers: “Enjoy the game and have fun.”

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