You’d smile too if someone just handed you $28,000 and the keys to a new Land Rover.
Johnny Bench, the hall of fame Cincinnati Reds catcher, must be the world’s greatest golfing partner. Last year at a pro-am event in Naples, Florida a member of his group won a Rolex watch for getting closest to the pin. This year, Tom Cusick, 63, made his first-ever hole-in-one during the Immokalee Foundation’s charity tournament at Bay Colony Golf Club…and walked away with a Land Rover and $28,000 cash.
Cusick hit a 6-iron on the 155-yard, par-3 16th hole. The ball flew low in the air, and kept on going. Then it smacked the flagstick, went up in the air, and dropped in the hole.
“I hit a shot that really wasn’t the best, but it ended up being beautiful,’’ said Cusick, a Grey Oaks resident who is from Minnesota.
Cusick and his group didn’t see the ball go in because the pin was on a ridge at the back of the green. But when spectators around the green started whooping and hollering, he had a pretty good guess of what had happened.
“I could hear it hit the pin all the way back there (on the tee), so he rapped it pretty good,’’ said Bench. (When it was first reported back to some club officials, the story included the ball striking a tree before going into the hole. But the sound was actually the ball striking the pin.)
“He hit it a little thin,’’ said Bench, “It was going up there, and it was running pretty hard. I said ‘Maybe it’ll hit the pin.’ I wanted it to slow down so we could have a birdie putt.
“Johnny Bench brought me all kinds of luck,’’ said Cusick, who took up the game in 1980. “He was a lot of fun, and very supportive.’’
“You’d think I’d at least get a caddie fee or something,’’ Bench joked.
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