It’s the hole-in-one story to end all hole-in-one stories.
“It was insane,” Ted Anderson said. “It was pretty surreal.”
If not for the corroborating video, it could be excused as an elaborate hoax by about 100 members of Pine Hills Country Club in Sheboygan. Without that video, who would believe it?
Yes, it was that crazy.
On Thursday, longtime Pine Hills member Ted Anderson made a hole-in-one on the 167-yard ninth hole and won $1 million.
But that’s just the end of the story. So, let’s start at the beginning.
In a Pine Hills tradition that dates to 1953, any member who makes an ace at the private club and also is a member of the "Hole-in-One Club" gets a party in his or her honor. The party consists of a shotgun event and a sit-down dinner.
Reed Schmitt made an ace earlier this summer and his party was Thursday.
To spice it up, Schmitt bought hole-in-one insurance for a shootout after the outing. The five golfers whose shots finished closest to the pin on Pine Hills’ five par-3 holes would get one swing on No. 9 afterward for the chance to win $1 million with an ace.
“In the order that things occurred, because we’re a shotgun event, Dan Olson had a hole-in-one on No. 16,” said member Keith Robel. “On No. 9, I have a hole-in-one. On the closest-to-the-pin marker I see somebody hit one to 0 feet 5 inches and it happens to be my business partner, Jon Rindt. I text him during the round and I say, ‘Jon, nice shot but I beat you by five inches.’ I get a text back from him about a half hour later and the text says, ‘That’s OK. I just had one on 14.’”
If you’re scoring at home, that’s three aces in the span of a few hours.
The three players who made holes-in-one and the two whose shots finished closest to the pin on the other par-3s — including Anderson, whose shot on No. 5 stopped about 4 feet from the cup — headed to the ninth tee for the shootout. About 100 members gathered around the green and video was rolling.
Anderson, 50, an oral surgeon who lives in Sheboygan, was first to hit.
“I put a good swing on a 6-iron,” said Anderson, who has a 7.1 handicap index. “When I hit it, I thought, ‘That’s pretty good.’ It went behind the hole and started rolling backward and you could hear the crowd buzzing and then it goes in and the crowd goes nuts.”
Back on the tee, the other four contestants pretty much mugged Anderson, a Stoughton native who wrestled at the University of Illinois.
“Thankfully, Teddy was a college wrestler,” Robel said, “because the weight of the guys who jumped on him probably would have broken his back.”
Said Anderson, “They jumped me and picked me up. It was pretty surreal. A hole-in-one is special, but normally two or three people see it. I had over 100 people see my hole-in-one live and go crazy.”
A day later, Anderson was still trying to process what had happened. His phone, he said, “blew up” with congratulatory calls. By 2:30 p.m. Friday, nearly 2,500 people had watched the video on YouTube.
“I feel very, very blessed,” Anderson said.
Robel just feels lucky.
“That’s why I bought lottery tickets today,” he said with a laugh.
Anderson said he wasn’t sure how the $1 million would be paid out; in most cases, it’s an annuity paid in installments of $40,000 or $50,000.
“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “That has been the farthest thing from my mind so far.”
Incidentally, the ace Thursday was Anderson’s second. He made his first hole-in-one 12 years ago … on No. 9 at Pine Hills.