Rice 2

Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice smiles after removing his golf ball from the cup following his first career hole-in-one on hole No. 8 at Hillcrest Country Club in Boise.

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BOISE — There wasn’t much of an immediate celebration because Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Rice watched as the ball went into the cup but needed confirmation when he walked up to the green. His eyes hadn’t deceived him — it was the first hole-in-one of his life.

Boise State’s tenth-year basketball coach achieved the dream of golfers everywhere when his tee shot on hole No. 8 at Hillcrest Country Club found the bottom of the cup Tuesday evening for an ace.

“I’m not much of a golfer and I just kind of ham and egg it, but I made pretty good contact and sometimes you get a little bit lucky,” Rice said. “I was in a little bit of shock like ‘I think that went in’.”

Hillcrest Country Club is home to the Korn Ferry Tour's Boise Open in August and considered by many to be the best course in the Treasure Valley.

Rice was 111 yards out and used an eight iron on the par 3 hole, which features a tee box and green separated entirely by water. He said the ball soared high into the air and over the water, landing on the front of the green and rolling straight into the cup.

“I hit it really, really good,” Rice said. “I felt great and it just hit on the green where I wanted it to and it had a nice slow roll to it and it just disappeared. But I got to see it go in. I was a little surprised more than anything else.”

His playing partners Scott Butterfield and Dickie Zickuhr posed with him for photos on the green. Once the photos made their way to social media, Rice’s phone began to blow up.

“It’s really funny how a hole-in-one is such a big deal,” Rice said. “I guess because its so uncommon. A lot of my friends have been reaching out and sending me fun texts.”

Rice, who had both hips replaced last summer, is playing an unusually high amount of golf this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All my life I’ve never really been a golfer, but because of the situation we’re in you need a hobby and I like to get out there and have some sort of competition going,” Rice said. “Golf is kind of filling that void for me right now, and it’s a great feeling.”

Rice said someone told him they hadn’t seen him smile as big as he did in the photo pulling the ball out of the cup since the comeback win against Utah State in February. Asked to compare the two feelings, Rice said, “it’s not even close in my book. I hate to admit it but I enjoy the basketball wins a heck of a lot more than one lucky shot.”

The worst part? Rice didn’t have much time to stick around and celebrate.

“I had to rush off,” Rice said. “We just did nine holes because I had to rush off to get on a zoom call, so I didn’t have much time to stay.”

There would be plenty of time to celebrate later.

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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