Shoji Tabuchi Scores “Hole in One”

Golf Obsession

By Joshua Clark
Staff Writer

There is something about the sport of golf that attracts entertainers and professional athletes alike. From Michael Jordan to Alice Cooper, golf is quickly becoming a pastime for those who spend their lives entertaining.

I love the game of golf, country music legend Mickey Gilley said during an interview in June. It is a full-blown passion that I take advantage of as often as I can. I just love to get out there and torture myself.

Thousand Hills Golf Pro Dan Davis sees Gilley and Branson entertainer Shoji Tabuchi several times a week, as well as several other local and national entertainers who play the course every year.

In addition to Gilley and Tabuchi, we get folks from Pierce Arrow, Grand Country Jubilee and Buck Trent, Davis said. Plus, we had the guys from Restless Heart and Little Texas over the past few weeks, as well.

Most golfers never get the chance to experience that high of golf course highs  the hole-in-one but for Gilley and Tabuchi, that reality has happened on several occasions.

On July 3, Tabuchi drained his second career hole-in-one at Thousand Hills Golf Course.

It’s beautiful, Tabuchi said. There is nothing nicer, is there?

Tabuchi’s hole-in-one last week came on the second hole, which measures 124 yards.

My friend Wayne Dixon actually called the shot, Tabuchi said. A few times I came really close, but you have to be right on it to get the ball to fall.

The staff at Thousand Hills gives golfers who make a hole-in-one a personalized golf flag, which includes the yardage for the day, the club used and the signatures of all witnesses. Davis estimates there are between 15-20 a year.

Tabuchi’s addiction to the sport began 15 years ago.

Golf just ruined everything, Tabuchi said with a smile. My fishing and every other sport was gone. I play several times a week, but if you ask my wife, she’ll say it is every day.

Tabuchi plays as often as three times a week at courses around town, but confesses he plays Thousand Hills most often.

I have two shows a day, so I get out early, Tabuchi said. I can get in 18 holes really quickly here and still have time to prepare for the show.

Tabuchi has a long way to go to catch up with Gilley, who has four holes-in-one. Gilley, who is recovering from back surgery, has recorded two holes-in-one on hole No. 12, one on hole No. 2 and one on No. 17 during his 14 years playing at Thousand Hills.

The one on 17 was great because it was 166 yards and the pin was on the back side of the green, Gilley said. I hit a five wood and drained it. Nowadays, I just pray to get on the green.

Gilley enjoys Point Royale, Holiday Hills and Thousand Hills.

I’ll play anywhere. I just love the game.

Golf’s popularity has grown because of the personal challenge, Tabuchi said.

You are competing with yourself, and that aspect seems to speak to everyone, he said. You know, it’s the battle within yourself.