Golfer believes message on balloon, hole-in-one were linked
The shot, as everyone who saw it on Saturday recalls, was beautiful — high, arcing and headed straight for the pin.
Stephen Rose of Rochester watched the ball bounce on the 14th green at the Dodge Country Club in Dodge Center , then disappear. He raced with his wife and friends to the fairway and was amazed at what he saw.
The hole in one was his first, a perfect strike on a day when he scattered shots all over the course.
It wasn't until after the elation died down that Rose pieced it all together — the balloon, the message in red marker, his last-second call for help.
Everything became clear. Rose realized that his stepson, Dan Linquist, who died at age 22 after a battle with addiction, had made that miracle shot happen.
The shot occurred during a fundraiser for Compassionate Friends, a support group for families grieving the death of a child. Golfers wrote messages on helium balloons to children they've lost and released them before play started.
Rose still isn't sure why he wrote what he did — it just popped into his head.
"Hole in one, Dan," he wrote. "Love you, miss you."
After an erratic round of golf, Dan came to mind again when Rose reached the 14th hole.
"Dan, I need a little help," Rose remembers thinking as he readied his nine iron, hoping he could simply land the ball on the par three's green.
The shot fell into the hole.
It was sweeter for Rose because he had largely avoided golf since Dan's death — the two of them played many times the summer before Dan died 2 1/2 years ago, and playing again was simply too painful.
It was also sweeter because he was wearing Dan's golf shoes, and because of the closeness he felt to Dan that day. Rose thinks Dan was sending a message: I'm here. Don't forget me.
But most of all it was sweeter because of the balloon. Rose realized that his hole-in-one shot happened at the same hole where he released the balloon earlier that morning.
It wasn't just anywhere on the 14th hole where he sent the message to Dan, but the 14th green. The same green, Rose recalls, where his improbable shot had fallen, bounced and was guided so perfectly home.