With $1 million on the line, Kyle Gerard sent his golf ball straight at the pin 165 yards away.
“I was crossing my fingers and throwing up prayers,” said Gerard, a three-handicap golfer who plays nearly every week in the Vancouver Golf Tour as an amateur.
But while Gerard’s distance and aim were on, the green didn’t comply and the ball rolled just to the right of the pin, coming to a rest 6’2” from the hole.
The shot may not have won the 35-year-old equipment rental salesman $1 million, but it was enough to claim top prize in the event and a bevy of consolation prizes. (For full results, click here.)
Qualifying for the elimination rounds on Sunday took place over the space of more than a week, and on Saturday, Gerard had come to Fraserglen planning to hit 100 balls and hopefully qualify for the following day’s final event. His sixth shot dropped in the hole 95 yards away, one of 10 aces over the course of the qualifying week.
On Sunday, the qualifiers were pared down in elimination events, with Gerard advancing to the final alongside Marty Peters, Rick Allen, and Dee Gorrell.
Gerard had made the 2013 final, but sent his ball well wide of the hole that year.
Peters, who won last year’s event, finished second in this year’s event, which is a fundraiser for Abbotsford Hospice Society’s Holmberg House, which is named for Dave Holmberg Jr., who passed away in March 2011 at the age of 48 years after a battle with cancer.
It was a good event for the Holmberg family, which has donated well over $1 million to facilitate the creation of the hospice, which is hoped to open next spring.
Gorrell, the daughter of Lee and Dave Holmberg Sr., advanced to the final after winning the first-ever ladies final, with a shot 36’8” from the hole. That shot, had it gone in, would have netted Gorrell $100,000. As it was, she was the first woman to finish in the top ten and hit for the big drive in the event’s history.
Organizers announced that around $44,000 had been raised from the Hole in One Challenge. While that’s down from last year, 2015 saw a record number of participants take swings. A total of 536 men, women and children participated, up from the previous record of 493 set in 2013. Ball sales were also up by around $5,000.