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Putnam man wins new pickup after nailing hole-in-one

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A Putnam County man had a stroke of luck when his first ever hole-in-one on the golf course won him a Toyota Tundra valued at $39,000.

Jack Richards, 71, of Scott Depot, made the amazing shot on Sept. 10 during the 15th annual Toyota/Special Olympics West Virginia Golf Classic at Sleepy Hollow County Club in Hurricane.

At 11 a.m. Thursday the keys to the Tundra were awarded to Richards at Toyota's Buffalo plant by Yoji "Yogi" Suzuki, president of Toyota's West Virginia operations.

The truck was the prize for hitting the 12th hole-in-one shot during the tournament.

"I'm excited," Richards said of winning a new vehicle. "It's in my driveway. I never won anything before. This is my first hole-in-one in 40 years of playing golf."

He jokes that he simply never needed a hole-in-one before.

Richards retired from AT&T in 1999 after 36 years of service as a system technician. For nine years he has worked at Sleepy Hollow washing carts and clubs and setting up for big events.

He does not consider himself an accomplished golfer.

"I'm a weekend golfer," he said. "I play two or three times a week."

When a friend asked him to participate in the recent tournament, he was happy to help out but never expected to win anything. He said more than 120 golfers took part.

During the time he has worked at Sleepy Hollow, he has seen numerous charity events with large prizes such as vehicles. He never saw anybody win.

When it was his turn to swing for the big prize, he was nervous.

"This shot was across a lake to the green," he said. "I just wanted to get it across the water to the green. I didn't want to be embarrassed. There was one bounce and it rolled three feet and went into the hole. I got mobbed by all the people I knew."

Before he left for the tournament that day, his wife, Vicki, told him she did not care how he played as long as he brought home that truck.

After making the unlikely shot, he pulled out his cellphone and told her to get the garage ready for the new vehicle.

Then he had to convince her he was not joking.

As it turned out, there was no need to clean the garage.

"It's so big it won't fit in the garage," he said. "It's a Tundra crew cab. It holds six people easy. It's big."

Before winning the tournament, he and his wife had discussed trading their 2006 Toyota Camry for a truck. He said they had decided not to trade since they also own a van.

His phone has been ringing off the hook with callers congratulating him on his totally unexpected win.

"It was luck," he said. "The odds are astronomical."

Some have asked why he isn't on the golf course practicing.

"I don't need to now," he said.

The Toyota/Special Olympics Golf Tournament is a private fundraiser wholly underwritten by Toyota. Since its inception 15 years ago, the tournament has raised more than $739,000 to benefit Special Olympics West Virginia.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.


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