Sports

Oh Baby! After hole-in-one, pregnant woman has girl

Allyson McCandless holds newborn Gabrielle as husband Michael admires his daughter Wednesday in the nursery of their Turlock home. (Debbie Noda / The Modesto Bee)
Allyson McCandless holds newborn Gabrielle as husband Michael admires his daughter Wednesday in the nursery of their Turlock home. (Debbie Noda / The Modesto Bee)

TURLOCK — Only days old, Gabrielle Annie McCandless already has earned a hefty nickname: the Hole-in-One Baby.

Turlock resident Allyson McCandless was hours from giving birth when she smacked a 125-yard ace Monday afternoon at River Oaks Golf Course in Ceres.

By the time McCandless packed up her golf clubs at the end of nine holes, she realized it was time to head to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, where she would give birth to her first child early Tuesday.

"Maybe it was all the jumping up and down," the baby's father, Michael McCandless, said of his wife's post-shot celebration.

"It was a pretty cool day altogether," said Allyson McCandless, who has been playing golf for five years.

On Wednesday afternoon, relatives who saw McCandless pick her ball — marked "Belly Babe" — out of the eighth-hole cup acknowledged that Gabrielle may start her life with some high golf expectations.

"She doesn't have a choice, there will be clubs in the crib," Michael McCandless, 30, said with a laugh.

Allyson McCandless, a 28-year-old Crowell Elementary School teacher, was days away from her due date when she teed up with a 5-iron to make her first hole-in-one.

Her husband and his parents, Kirk and Mary McCandless, were there to witness the shot.

Instead of going out to celebrate with an ice cream sundae as planned, Allyson McCandless gave birth to a 7-pound 13-ounce girl with a shock of dark hair.

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The story has been making the rounds at the Ceres course.

"We told everybody," said Ben Martinez, a River Oaks employee. "I've never even heard of anything like that."

Martinez said a player makes a hole-in-one about once per month at the course. About 1,000 people play each month.

But Michael Phipps, the general manager, said the odds of such a shot are very slim, even for golfers who play for years.

"Some people never get one," Phipps said. "It's like a 1 in 10,000 (chance) at least."

Allyson McCandless' relatives wonder if there is something to a belly that could help them pull off a hole-in-one.

Her father, Curtis Hennings, said he jokingly suggested a fake pregnancy belly to his sister, an avid golfer who hasn't had the thrill of the rare golf feat.

"She said, 'I'll put it on, if I get a hole-in-one,' " he said.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

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