By Matt Hombach
Growing up in west Texas in the 1960s, Mancil Davis wasn’t unlike a lot of other kids his age. With the Lone Star state producing a number of golf legends like Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and famed golf teacher Harvey Penick, it certainly wasn’t uncommon for a young boy in Texas to pick up the game and play it competitively.
With 51 lifetime aces, Mancil Davis holds the PGA world record for official holes-in-ones.
The good news for Davis was he wasn’t scoring these aces while he was out by himself puttering around; he was making them in sanctioned Junior PGA events. Playing partners and adult scorekeepers were right there and served as certified witnesses.
The local paper in his hometown did a story on his eight aces in 12 months. The wire services soon picked up on the story ,and it wasn’t long before Golf Digest came calling and even CBS Television’s “I’ve Got a Secret” program.
CBS flew Davis and his parents to New York City for the taping of the popular 1960s game show.
“Talk about culture shock,” Davis said. “Here I am, a 12-year-old kid from deep west Texas being driven through Manhattan in a limo to the Ed Sullivan Theater to be on national TV.”
“I’ve Got a Secret” host Steve Allen brought Mancil out and asked him his name. Davis was shocked when the audience burst out in laughter at his polite response.
“I couldn’t understand why these people were cracking up laughing,” he said. “In my mind I said ‘I’m Mancil Davis from Odessa, Texas,’ but to the New York City audience, my thick Texas accent made it sound more like ' I’m MANsoulll DAYYYvis from OOOOdessa, Texas.'”
Thrown by the accent that Davis still retains a hint of to this day, panelists on the show wrongly guessed he was a young cattle rancher or cowpoke. They never imagined the youngster was a golf prodigy who would eventually make his living off making aces.
Davis had an outstanding high school golf career and headed to LSU on a full scholarship. However, an ailing father and the need to be closer to home forced Davis back to Texas after only a year in Baton Rouge.
He tried his hand on pro tours, attempting to get in through Monday qualifiers and playing events on the Canadian Tour. Davis eventually ended up making some good money in professional golf, but not as a player.
“In the early 1970s, I made a much better living carrying golf clubs for pro golfers like Hale Irwin, Tom Weisskoff and Doug Sanders than I did playing golf with my own,” Davis said.
After ending his run with professional golf on the touring side, Davis settled in as an assistant pro and eventually head pro at The Woodlands Country Club, north of Houston. He enjoyed working in a golf atmosphere while interacting with people.
Through it all, though, the aces kept on coming, in all shapes and sizes. Davis made aces with every club in his bag except the putter, pitching wedge and sand wedge. He made them on short par-3s and not-so-short par-4s.
His longest hole-in-one came when he aced a 379-yard par-4 at The Trophy Club designed by Hogan.
“That one was a fluke,” Davis said. “I was the last to hit in a scramble, and we had three safe shots in the fairway. I cut the dogleg and hit for the green. It just cleared the trees and rolled into the cup as the group in front of us was walking off.”
With all these aces to his record, Davis hooked up with the National Hole-In-One Association in the 1980s. That’s where he was given the moniker “King of Aces” as a promotional gimmick.
He served as spokesman and head of the association’s event division. He still represents the organization as director of operations.
The King of Aces added to his legend by scoring more aces through the 1980s and 1990s. He eventually made it to 50 and sat on that number for several years, until just a few weeks ago when he made his 51st at The Woodlands, his home course in Texas.
Davis has made a good living traveling the country hosting on clinics, participating in corporate and charity outings and staging unique, million-dollar hole-in-one shootouts like the event this weekend at The Woodlands and Diamond Ridge.
Davis and his team bring their unique brand of golf event to town from May 31 to June 3. Qualifying will go on each day and the semifinals and finals will happen on Sunday around 4 p.m.
“The shootout is unique from any other golf event you’ve ever seen,” Davis said.
To qualify for the semifinals, golfers need to land a shot in a six-foot circle about 125 yards out on the practice range. Qualifying shots are $1 each. If you hit more than two shots in the circle, you’re qualified for two shots in the semis. If you make a hole-in-one in qualifying, you move right to the finals.
The semifinals on Sunday are a closest-to-the-pin contest. The top 20 closest to the pin in the semis move on to the finals, where the fun really begins.
Each golfer will get one shot from about 155 yards over the pond to the green on No. 10 at Diamond Ridge. The million-dollar flag will be placed in the center of the green and 18 additional flags will be placed around the green, worth $10,000 apiece if you hole it out.
“The green literally looks like a piece of swiss cheese,” Davis said. “It feels like you can’t miss.”
For full details on the event and to print out discount coupons for qualifying shots, visit www.BaltimoreGolfing.com. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. SOME AMAZING HOLE-IN-ONE FACTS ABOUT DAVIS’ CAREER:
• 51 official holes-in-one (PGA world record)
• 10 double eagles (World record)
• Longest hole-in-one: 379 yards
• Shortest hole-in-one: 124 yards
• Eight holes-in-one in a single year (1967)
• Three holes-in-one within five days (June 1967)
• Five holes-in-one on the same hole (No. 2 Odessa Country Club)
• Aced all par-3s on one golf course (Trophy Club, Roanoke, Texas)
• Made at least one hole-in-one per year between 1967 and 1987
Issue 2.22: May 31, 2007