EVERETT — Max Soterakopoulos has joined the select club of golfers who had the pleasure of watching their tee shot drop into the cup for a hole-in-one.
But Max pushed those clubhouse doors open a little earlier than most. You see, he’s only 6 years old.
The Everett resident set a new standard for precociousness when the youngster aced No. 14 at Legion Memorial Golf Course on May 29.
Hitting a hole-in-one is a rare enough feat for those who have been playing golf for decades. Its almost unheard of for a player who still isn’t old enough to go on many of the rides at amusement parks. Legion Memorial head professional Shayne Day couldn’t recall ever reporting a hole-in-one by a golfer as young as 6.
”I’ve never hit a hole-in-one, I’d never even witnessed one,” said Max’s father Chris, who was on hand to see his son’s incredible shot. “Then my 6-year-old son does it. That’s insane!”
Playing from the green (shortest) tees, Max was 76 yards away from the pin on the par-3 14th at Legion Memorial. Using a 6-iron, the lefty swinger hit a shot that landed just short of the green, rolled onto the putting surface and sank into the hole.
“I didn’t know it was going in, I thought it was going to miss to the side,” Max said. “But my dad thought it was going to go in and it did and I was surprised. I almost threw my club, but I didn’t do it, I only thought about it in my head.”
“He had actually just finished 13 not very well, so he was upset about it and I was just trying to get him refocused, which can be hard to do with kids,” Chris said. “He hit a good shot, it was a solid hit and I said he’d probably be on the green. It landed just short of the green, rolled up and to the left, and before you knew it the ball disappeared. We were all shocked.”
Not only did Max hit his hole-in-one, which unsurprisingly was his first, there’s video evidence to prove it. While there were plenty of witnesses on hand for verification — Max was playing with his 8-year-old sister Helaina while parents Chris and Jayne were spectating, and the two gentlemen who joined the group to make it a foursome also saw it — Jayne just happened to be taking video of the shot on her phone, meaning the Soterakopoulos family can replay the moment forever.
“It’s one of those moments where you wish you got it on video so you could re-live it, but the fact that we did is just awesome,” Chris said, estimating that Jayne only took video of three or four of Max’s tee shots during the round. “It’s just dumb luck that my wife happened to be taking video, to be honest. If it had just been me there and not my wife, it would not be on video.”
While Max’s hole-in-one was an unbelievable accomplishment, it was no fluke. Max has been playing two-to-three times a week since taking up the sport last August, he participates in tournaments, and he recently placed sixth out of 22 competitors in the boys 7-9 division at the Drive, Chip & Putt local qualifier last Sunday at Mount Si Golf Course.
“(Golf) is my favorite sport right now,” said Max, whose favorite player is fellow lefty Phil Mickelson. “I do hockey and swimming and I used to do basketball and gymnastics. But I like golf most because I like swinging the club really hard.”
“He loves talking to people about it,” Chris said about Max and his hole-in-one. “Any time we’re playing golf with other people he’s like, ‘Dad, tell them about the hole in one.’”
So how many more holes-in-one does Max think he’s going to hit?
“Like three more, I guess,” Max replied.
The good news for Max is that when one hits one’s first ace at 6, one has plenty of time to add to the total.