Detroit News/GAM Hole In One Contest returns, with record entries and some highlight shots
Livonia — Hole-in-one stories are like fish stories, only better. Aces come in all shapes and surprises, from scratch golfers to weekend warrior hacks, on par 3s but even occasionally on par 4s.
There are golfers who've played every week for 50 years and never have had one.
And then there is Randy Tromblay, who had never played golf in his life before he agreed to play in an outing at Links of Novi 20 years ago. On the first hole that day, he hit a shot so bad, he appeared to be the biggest hazard on the course. Five holes later — yes, five holes into his golf "career" — he had an ace.
Gee, what took ya so long?
"My best buddy, he was behind us," Tromblay said of his pal, Mike Carlton, who was an avid golfer, and at that point had never had a hole-in-one.
"He cut loose on me with every kind of swear word you wanted to hear. He plays and practices every day.
"It was truly wasted on me."
Let the record show it was 175 yards; he used a 5-iron.
Tromblay, 67, a Livonia resident and a Golf Association of Michigan volunteer, was one of several hundred golfers who teed it up at the annual Detroit News/GAM Hole In One Contest, which returned in 2021 after being postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were a record number of entries, more than 400, each player getting two cracks at the short seventh hole at Whispering Willows Golf Club.
There still has never been an ace in the contest, but several gave the cup a scare Monday, including one of the first golfers off — David Bazner hit it to 1 feet, 6.5 inches, holding up all day as the overall winner.
There was only one junior entry, but Drew Reed, 12, of Novi, was more than just a default winner. After a rough first shot, the glove-less lefty hit his second to 5 feet, 8 inches, to beat his dad, Michael.
Reed hit after Warren's Jerome Glowski, 88, marking a 76-year age difference in the span of moments. Glowski, likewise a lefty, left his glasses on the nearby table, then came back to see he hit it to 22 feet.
Michael Fleming, 67, of Redford, has five aces — among the most in the field Monday. Remarkably, they aren't even counted among his best shots ever. He once had a double-eagle in Romeo.
"I don't even talk about the hole-in-ones," he said, with a laugh.
The albatross is among the most-rare shots in golf, right up there with acing a par 4.
Michael Lesinski, 26, of Canton, qualified for the Hole In One Contest 10 years ago, and not even on a par 3.
Playing with his dad, grandpa and cousin, Lesinski, then 16 took driver on a 270-yard par 4 at Thorne Hills Golf Course in Carleton.
Lesinski didn't see it go again, but his cousin Dave did. They were just reminiscing about that shot recently.
"He was like, you remember when I ran the entire hole" up to the green," Lesinski said of that recent conversation with his cousin. "I was like, 'I don't remember that.'"
Lesinski hit a couple decent shots in Monday's contest, but those weren't his best shots of the day. He later played a round at Whispering Willows, and came within 14 inches of a double-eagle on the par-5 16th hole.
Prizes were awarded Monday in seven categories, men and women, seniors and super seniors. Sponsors included The News, GAM, Whispering Willows, Others First, Go Insurance, Sniffer Station in Highland, Plymouth Rubber & Transmission, C F Burger Creamery, Solomon Plumbing, Guardian in Brighton and Comeback Inn in Highland.
Most contestants had one ace, but some had more, like Farmington Hills' Mike Gyokeres, 74, who has three. The last one, two years ago at Fox Creek in Livonia, was special.
"I finally saw the last one go in," he said.
George Yee, of Novi, had the distinction of being the oldest contestant, at 94 — though you'd be well within your right to ask for ID.
He looks better than many men who are 64, even if he doesn't always feel it.
"I'm just lucky," said Yee, "to get out of bed."
►Overall: David Bazner, 1 foot, 6.5 inches
►Men: Justin Zagata, 8-2
►Women: Sandy Szuba, 21-5
►Senior men: Stacy Benedict, 4-5
►Senior women: Cynthia Pinkard, 9-2
►Super senior men: James Finley, 9-2
►Junior: Drew Reed, 5-8
Note: Complete results will be published later this week in The Detroit News and at detroitnews.com.
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