By Matt Baide
As much as I dislike the Pittsburgh Penguins (that’s a hockey team, for those that don’t know), I have a great deal of respect for them after this year’s Stanley Cup Finals (again, a hockey thing), because they were able to do something that not many teams can do: Repeat as champions.
Last year, I managed to pull out my second-greatest accomplishment as a golfer by winning the Visiting Nurses Million Dollar Shootout. I didn’t make the $1 million hole in one, but I was closest to the pin, and thus won some sweet prizes (and may or may not have made a championship belt that hangs in my apartment).
This year, I returned to the event with no pressure as I walked towards the driving range at Riverside Golf Course. I didn’t expect to win it this year, but I was going to give it my best shot.
The format of the initial round was different. Last year was a closest to the pin format, with the three closest shots qualifying for the final shot at a $1 million. This year, they set up three kiddie pools about 115 yards away, and a shot had to land our bounce into the pools to qualify for a final swing.
I ran through my first 11 shots with no luck. I gave it one more try, because $20 for nine shots wasn’t a bad deal. My third shot of the final batch bounced just shy of the pools and disappeared.
Sure enough, I had made it in the pool and qualified for the final shot.
The other two qualifiers for the shot were attorney Shane O’Rourke and Will Alexander. O’Rourke was in this event last year, so I knew he was going to bring his A-game. And I have been to a few of Alexander’s golf tournaments this past year, when he was a senior playing for W.F. West, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.
The shot was set up on the 18th hole about 177 yards away, which is about a 6 or 7 iron for me. We got back to the tee box and O’Rourke went first, not hitting his best shot and missing the green wide left.
I stepped up next and decided on hitting a six iron while choking down to make sure I didn’t have to pay for clubhouse repairs in case I bladed the shot or hit it long. I made great contact and the shot drew just a bit left of the pin, about 15 feet away. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
Alexander stepped up and hit the same club, and it looked like his shot might draw enough to be closer to the pin than I was. Alexander’s ball ended up about 20 feet away, and somehow, I was the champion once again.
I have to thank Jenny Collins and everyone who helped put on the event, which was even bigger and better than it was last year. The Shootout, along with the accompanying golf tournament on Friday, raised roughly $50,000 this year for the Visiting Nurses Foundation.
I also have to thank my lucky golf hat, which has helped produce two wins in the last week on the golf course.
I received a few nice prizes, but I will be back next year to try and win the $1 million so I can quit working and move to Australia.