Just as a drag racer will accept a round-win no matter how pretty or ugly the run looked, so will a golfer take a hole-in-one with no apology.
Allen Johnson knows that. He has had some not-quite-textbook Pro Stock victories, and twice on the golf course he has made a hole-in-one.
As the one-time scratch golfer cheered on the U.S. Ryder Cup team against its European counterparts this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis in between driving duties in the Team Mopar / J&J Racing Dodge Avenger, he reflected on his own golfing experiences.
"I've had two hole-in-ones," Johnson said. "One of 'em was legitimate, and one of 'em was a bit of a fluke. But if you write a "1" down [on your card], they don't ask how you got it."
The fluky feat, he said, came when he "hit short of the green on Hole No. 6 at Link Hills Country Club [in his Greeneville, Tenn., hometown]. And it hit a sprinkler head, bounced right into a tree, then kicked over onto the green, and went into the hole. That was the first one I had.
"The second one I hit just right past the hole and it sucked right back into the hole," he said. "That was at the Member/Guest Golf Tournament at Link Hills Country Club. Won a bunch of John Deere mowing equipment."
While Johnson plays at Link Hills when he gets the chance, he also is part-owner of Nolichucky View Golf Club, down Asheville Highway from Link Hills in Greeneville. It's an 18-hole course that snuggles up to the banks of the Nolichucky River with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It sits on the land where Johnson and his childhood pals used to run around and play.
It started out as a nine-hole course which a group of investors bought.
Johnson said they "bought the nine-hole course and 100 acres around it later and developed it into a real nice 18-hole course and a subdivision, a country-club like atmosphere. They went belly-up about five years ago and me and a couple of my buddies bought it at foreclosure and it's been going good the last couple of years. Beautiful golf course."
Johnson stopped short of drawing a connection between his dominating, points-leading performance of late and an improvement in his golf game.
"Golf is relaxing me. See what's on TV right now?" he said with a nod to the TV set in his motorhome at the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals. "I come in here and lay and watch golf all dang weekend every weekend. When it's not on, I'm lost, even though I'm at the races. I just love golf.
"I used to play before I got into drag racing, played in tournaments," Johnson said. "I got down to about a scratch golfer. Enjoyed it. But now I get to play 10-12 times a year. I play in all these charity tournaments.
"I've been working on my game this year, though, more than I have in several years. Just really love golf," he said.
On his car in St. Louis were decals depicting his Ryder Cup interest. He said he wanted to "keep up with the score and put it on the back window of the Mopar Dodge Avenger to show our support."
But he said his race car is a separate issue and rejected the notion that his elevated golf game has anything to do with his career-best Pro Stock season. "I don't think so," he said with a laugh.
It certainly hasn't hurt. He has five victories in eight final-round appearances, has led the standings since his July victory at Denver, has 10 of his 28 career No. 1 starts this season.
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