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All-Time Golf Scoring Record Goes with Death of Kim Jong il


Along with the Sunday death of North Korean leader Kim Jong il went one of the most fantastic records ever established in golf. The son of North Korea's founder died of a heart attack at age 69 - or 70 (his date of birth was either 1941 in Russia or, according to the official biography, in 1942 at a secret military camp on Baekdu Mountain in Japanese Korea).

During his reign as the unquestioned, unchallenged leader of the secretive nation, Kim, according to official North Korean state media reports, routinely shot three or four holes-in-one per round of golf.

But in the 1990s - another moment in time when an event in North Korea varies (some say it happened in 1991 and others in 1994), the late dictator, then 50 (or 53) years old, set a golfing standard that will assuredly never be surpassed. It occurred at the grand opening of the Pyongyang Golf Complex, which contains North Korea's only 18-hole golf course.

After picking up a golf club that day for the very first time in his life, the Dear Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea fired a 38-under-par round of 34 at Pyongyang. According to the 17 security guards who observed the performance, the score included an amazing 11 aces. Naturally, the event was dutifully reported to the North Korean masses by the state news agency.

But such unparalleled play on a golf course (minor question: how many par-3s could par-72 Pyongyang have?) is not surprising for the Supreme Commander of the North Korean Armed Forces. Kim also had the ability to influence the weather based on his mood; had a five-foot-two-inch body that didn't require him to defecate; and was blessed with an ability to drink incredible amounts of Hennessey cognac which, at $630 a bottle, made him the company's No. 1 customer, worldwide, over the past decade.

(Kim was also a huge music fan. Among the titles of hit songs authorized by his regime were: "The Joy of Bumper Harvest Overflows Amidst the Song of Mechanization," "Song of Blood Transfusion," and the all-time favorite, "The Shoes My Brother Bought Fit Me Tight.")

Remember the Southern California woman - Jacqueline Gagne - who claimed she made 16 holes-in-one in 2007 and 10 aces over a four-month period? A statistician determined the odds of that occurring to be 12 septillion to 1. Goodness knows the unfathomable odds of Kim's feat.

Golf Digest writer Dave Kindred interviewed some of Gagne's playing partners. None of them claimed that she was faking a hole-in-one, though Kindred couldn't find a single person who saw any of Gagne's tee shots actually disappear into a hole.

But that wasn't a problem with Kim as - fortunately - he had 17 honest witnesses in attendance that applauded his 11 aces - all in that single momentous round.

With Kim's passing, it's uncertain whether the World Golf Hall of Fame will petition North Korea to release his impeccable scorecard for display in St. Augustine, Fla.

One can only hope then, that with the expected emergence of Kim's 20-something son, Kim Jong-un, as the Supreme Leader's successor, a golf détente of sorts will be reached and the nonpareil feat of the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission will be on view for generations to come.

For two related stories, visit http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Jong+golfing+accomplishments+will+never+repeated/5883374/story.html and http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-20/golf-world-mourns-kim-jong-il/3739452.