Bowa hits first hole-in-one on 'perfect day'

February 22nd, 2024

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- knows what it’s like to be on top. He won a World Series in front of a frenzied crowd at Veterans Stadium in 1980.

Bowa felt something similar on Wednesday, when he hit his first hole-in-one in the Phillies’ annual golf outing at Belleair Country Club in Belleair, Fla. The ace didn’t match the final out of the 1980 World Series, giving the Phillies their first championship, but it sure as heck felt as good as the time Bowa hit a grand slam against Joe Hoerner at the Vet in 1977.

It was the only grand slam of Bowa’s 16-year career.

“I got a rush, I’ll tell you,” Bowa, 78, said Thursday afternoon at BayCare Ballpark. “When I hit the grand slam, I was thinking, ‘Are you [kidding] me? That ball went out?’ That’s what I said when that ball went in. Because when I was going up there, they kept saying it was in the hole. I kept saying, ‘No, it isn’t.’ They’re like, ‘Here it is, right here, right here, look at it.’ I said, ‘Oh my God.’”

The group in front had barely left the green on the East Course’s No. 3, which is a 160-yard par three, when Bowa hit his 7 iron.

“Fore!” Trea Turner yelled. “It’s going in the hole!”

The ball hit about 15-20 feet left of the pin, turned right and rolled in. Brandon Marsh was a few feet away. He raised his arms and hollered. Bryson Stott was in Bowa’s group with Turner, first-base coach Paco Figueroa and Major League hitting strategy manager Josh Studnitzer. Stott called Marsh from the tee box to confirm.

“It’s in the hole!” Marsh said.

“Then we start going crazy,” Stott said. “It was sick. He didn’t believe it. He thought we were messing with him. But it got loud. When me, Trea, Kyle [Schwarber] and J.T. [Realmuto] play, me and Trea kind of get obnoxious out there, but that was a whole new level.”

“It was pretty bad ass,” Turner said.

The East Course’s No. 3 is near other tees and greens, so there were a few groups that got to see the ball go in or be close enough to congratulate Bowa.

“He threw 20 minutes of BP, hit a bunch of fungoes, then gets a hole-in-one,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “That’s a perfect day for Larry Bowa.”

Bowa is in his 59th season of professional baseball and his 40th with the Phillies. He still gets into uniform every day in Clearwater. He still hits fungoes to Phillies infielders. He still throws BP.

“I’ve been lucky,” Bowa said. “I’ve been lucky that the Phillies accepted me and let me do my thing. Dave [Dombrowski] and John [Middleton] said as long as you feel good, go ahead. I feel like being around these young guys -- you can’t slow down Father Time -- but it makes you feel young when you see these guys.

“There’s going to be a time when I can’t do it. But I just like being around the guys. Thomps has been great. The coaching staff has been great. The players have been great. They come up and talk. It’s cool. Most of those guys in there, especially the veteran guys, they know that I played. They know that Charlie [Manuel] managed. It’s cool talking baseball with them.”

Asked what players ask him the most about his Phillies days, he said he gets lots of questions about Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan.

“We were talking yesterday,” Stott said. “That’s how you’ve got to do it when you start getting older. The way he moves around and walking around everywhere and hitting fungoes and still playing golf, I think it’s good for him. I always joke that we have 38 guys here and he’s the one hitting the groundballs, but he loves doing it, and he probably tells the other people that he’s got it. It’s great having him around all the time.”

“He’s 78, that’s a big blessing,” Turner said. “He’s great. He’s been awesome to me since I’ve been here.”

Middleton got the flag from No. 3 to give to Bowa. Turner, Stott, Figueroa and Studnitzer signed it.

It was the closest-to-the-pin hole, too. So Bowa won a few nice prizes, including new golf shoes and a vest.

Belleair had another tournament on Thursday. The prize on No. 3 for a hole-in-one? A boat.

“[Shoot], don’t tell me that!” Bowa joked.

But at least he didn’t have to follow through with one of golf’s traditions. Golfers who hit a hole-in-one are supposed to buy drinks for everybody in the clubhouse.

“John said, ‘Bo, don’t worry about it,” Bowa said. “I’ll pick up the tab.”