The LPGA Golfer Who Won a Hole-in-One Prize — for Acing the Wrong Hole

During a tournament on the 1981 LPGA Tour, a golfer stepped up to the 16th hole, a par-3, and knocked her tee shot right into the hole. An ace. The crowd went wild, because that golfer just won the tournament's hole-in-one prize, a brand new car. Or so the fans thought. There was one problem, though: That golfer had aced the wrong hole.

It was the 1981 Boston Five Classic on the LPGA Tour. The tournament's title sponsor was a bank that was then named the Five-Cent Savings Bank. (Today is it called called BankFive.) The Boston Five Classic itself was a long-running (1980 through 1997) LPGA tournament. Those fans who remember it today might better recall it under a later name: the Ping/Welch's Championship.

Hole-in-one prizes were probably not as common then as they are now in professional golf: Today, many of the tournaments on the pro tours have a fancy car sitting beside one of the par-3 holes waiting for someone to make an ace and claim it. (And they all carry hole-in-one insurance in case someone does ace the prize hole.)

At the 1981 Boston Five Classic, the hole-in-one prize, put up by the Five-Cent Savings Bank, was a station wagon. But marketing skills around hole-in-one prizes weren't quite as good back then, and the car was not sitting out on the course on the prize hole.

Instead, the players were informed before the tournament started about the hole-in-one prize, and on which hole it was up for grabs. And the fans were informed in the tournament program, handed out on-site.

That's where the problem came in: the golfers were told the prize was available on one hole, but the program listed a different hole.

The golfer who made the ace was Deanie Wood. She had a brief LPGA career after having won the Player of the Year Award on the WPGT Mini Tour (a precursor of the Symetra Tour) in 1980. Her brother was longtime PGA Tour golfer Willie Wood.

What the players were told by the title sponsor is that the station wagon would be won by the first golfer to ace the par-3 sixth hole. But in the program, it was the 16th hole that was listed for the hole-in-one prize.

When Deanie Wood aced the 16th, she knew it wasn't the right hole. But then the fans went wild, thinking she had won a new car. (And back then, a new car was a huge prize for a golfer far down the LPGA money list, like Wood.)

What would the sponsor do? Wood naturally felt that if the tournament program advertised the 16th hole, and she aced the 16th hole, and all the fans thought she had won that car, then she should get that car. The sponsor thought, wait a minute, what was in the program was a mistake — players were told it was the sixth hole.

In the end, Wood didn't get the car, but she did get something. Five-Cent Savings Bank president Bob Spiller and Wood worked out a compromise: She got $3,500 cash. That was less than the value of the car. But, in Wood's situation as a struggling tour player, getting that cash probably meant more to her anyway.

And that's how an LPGA Tour player once won a hole-in-one prize for acing the wrong hole.

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