Golf notes: Lee Trevino returning to Treetops on 20th anniversary of $1M ace

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Lee Trevino always made for good TV, with his rapid-fire wit and his knack for hitting some amazing golf shots when the cameras were rolling.

And few shots were more memorable for Trevino than when he stepped on the seventh tee of Treetops' Threetops course July 30, 2001. Competing in the made-for-TV Par 3 Shootout, Trevino aced the downhill 138-yarder to win more than $1 million.

The shot, Trevino's fifth hole-in-one during competition, went long — while the ball was in the air, he said it had to "get down" — but spun back more than 20 feet into the cup.

World Golf Hall of Famer Lee Trevino thrilled the crowd at Treetops in 2001 when he made a hole-in-one.

This year, on July 29, Treetops in Gaylord will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the shot, with Trevino returning for a nine-hole scramble on the par-3 course at the famous northern Michigan resort.

"I have fond memories of that ace," said Trevino, 81, who won 29 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including six majors, and 29 more on the Champions Tour, but never made more money than with that single shot.

Treetops is opening the event to the first 80 golfers to sign up. The format is a four-man scramble, and the cost is $200. That gets you the golf, a Trevino autograph, a photo with Trevino and a gift. Golfers can sign up at

Trevino also will hold a pre-golf clinic, and a post-golf fireside chat.

He will be stationed on that seventh hole, hitting a shot for each of the groups.

The Par 3 Shootout ran from 1999 to 2006, and aired on ESPN. Participants over the years included Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, Raymond Floyd, Craig Stadler and Hale Irwin.

Trevino's ace was the only one in the event's history, and earned him $1,090,000 — the $1-million ace bonus, $80,000 for the skin and $10,000 for being closest to the pin. Trevino donated $500,000 to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis.

Trevino, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, also made a memorable televised ace in the 1987 Skins Game, another now-defunct made-for-TV golf tournament. He won $310,000 in that tournament.

Surging Spartan

When the Rocket Mortgage Classic is considering sponsor's exemptions for the third annual PGA Tournament, it won't have to look far for a pretty worthy recipient.

Michigan State's James Piot of Canton just demolished the field at Detroit Golf Club in the Michigan Medal Play, one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the state. Piot, a Detroit Catholic Central alum, finished last week's four-round tournament at 10 under par — for a 10-stroke victory, as the only player to finish under par.

Piot is having a banner year, as a first-team all-Big Ten selection, and a participant in next week's NCAA regional in Tennessee. He will be the regional's No. 1 seed, set to cap a season in which he posted a 71.3 scoring average, won one individual title and finished in the top six in five of the Spartans' last six tournaments — including a tie for sixth at the Big Ten championships.

At the Michigan Medal Play, Piot, split over Detroit's two courses, shot rounds of 71, 66, 68 and 65. The tournament returned for the first time since 2019 (last year's was axed because of COVID-19), when it was still known a the Horton Smith Invitational. Last year, club and tournament organizers stripped Smith's name from the championship, amid outcries over his well-known promotion of segregation in golf when he was PGA president. Smith, a two-time Masters champion, was the head professional at Detroit Golf Club from 1946 until his death in 1963; his portrait, which long hung in DGC's clubhouse, also has been removed.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is set for July 2-5 and will include a 156-player field, which will include a handful of sponsor's exemptions.

Chips & divots

►Several Michigan golfers have made U.S. Open sectional qualifying, after finishing atop leaderboards at two local qualifiers this month, in Muskegon and Ann Arbor: Michigan State's Troy Taylor II, Jake Kneen (White Lake), Joseph Kiss (Kalamazoo), Andrew Ruthkoski (Muskegon) and Caleb Johnson (Muskegon) at Muskegon Country Club, and Donnie Trosper (Canton), Michigan State's Andrew Walker, Tommy Sullivan (Grosse Pointe) and Michael Busse (Rochester Hills) at Barton Hills.

Sectional qualifying runs from May 24 through June 7, with the U.S. Open set for June 17-20 at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

►The Detroit News/Golf Association of Michigan Hole In One Contest is returning in 2021, after being canceled last year amid COVID-19. Mark your calendars: It's scheduled for Monday, Sept. 20, again at Whispering Willows in Livonia.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984