TRAVERSE CITY — In the 18 years that he's been playing golf, Jeff Rademacher has made four holes in one.
Three of them came during otherwise nondescript outings with friends. With the latest one he won a new car.
Rademacher, 36, of Traverse City, was the proud winner of a Mercedes Benz C300 when he buried an ace on the 155-yard 17th hole at The Bear at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa during last Thursday's Northwestern Michigan College Open. Figuring the odds of making a hole in one on that particular hole were so long, Rademacher said no one within his group was even talking about the possibility of winning the new luxury vehicle as they made their way to the 17th tee.
"No one in a million years thinks they're going to make one," said Rademacher. "You just go take your ball and see what happens. The odds are completely against you."
Rademacher said as he put his ball on the tee he was just hoping to put it in a manageable spot on the green to potentially make a birdie putt. He got more than he bargained for as soon as he followed his drive.
"As you hit it you think, 'oh, that has a chance.' When it bounced in my body went numb. I didn't even know how to react," said Rademacher. "When...it went in everyone kind of erupted. It was pretty crazy.
"You never know how you're going to react when that happens. It's just more of a stunned, numbing type feeling. It was like, 'did this really happen? Did this really happen on the hole that you get the free car?'"
Though he was in shock from the incredible shot immediately after it happened, Rademacher managed to maintain his composure the rest of the round. In fact, he scored a birdie on the very next hole.
"My game stayed, for the most part, pretty consistent," he said. "But it wasn't enough to win the tournament. I didn't care at that point."
As word spread that Rademacher had won the car, his cell phone began to explode with a flurry of text messages from friends and well wishers congratulating him on the shot and the new car.
"Half the rest of the round was responding to text messages," Rademacher said, laughing. "It was a beautiful day out there. It was a great day. Certainly a one in a million chance of that happening. I'm glad I was the one who did it."
Rademacher, who drives a Toyota Camry, wasn't necessarily in the market for a new vehicle, but was thrilled to be able to upgrade to a car like a Mercedes and without having to pay the $52,000 price tag.
"I'm happy with (the Camry), but it's not every day you get to have a luxury vehicle as your car," he said. "I don't know what we're going to do (with the Camry). There's a chance just to sell it and pay it off and not have a car payment. There are a lot of unknowns at this point."
In an interesting coincidence, Rademacher's co-worker, Mitchell Blue, buried a hole in one of his own a day later on the third hole at Lochenheath as part of the Carter's Kids golf outing. While that ace didn't include a car, it has made for good conversation at the office.
"What are the odds of two co-workers hitting back-to-back holes in one in back-to-back outings?" asked Rademacher. "That's just unheard of."