Hole-in-One Dispute Over Car Settled
Lawsuits over a hole-in-one contest that produced an ace, but no prize car, settled out of court this week. During the annual charity Emil Froehlich tournament at Southern Pines Elks Lodge last summer Paul Verdecchia swung his 4-iron to slam the ball 172 yards down the 14th fairway and slap into the cup.
He was sure he’d just won the brand new Nissan Altima that Pinehurst Nissan displayed near the putting green. There were handshakes, backslaps and congratulations all ’round. He posed by the car for pictures. Then everything fell apart.
The car dealer said they’d only put the car out there for advertising, never promised any prize. The lodge said they had. Phone calls back and forth further confused Verdecchia. At one point he was told he’d won a car, just not that car. In a later call he was told no deal: no car, no way, no how.
“Somebody dropped the ball,” Verdecchia said later. “I fulfilled all the requirements to win the car. First and only hole-in-one I ever made. At least they can't take that away.”
Tommy Holderfield at Pinehurst Nissan said they had offered cars before, and bought “hole-in-one insurance” every time – just in case. This time, they hadn’t OK’d any such deal, hadn’t insured themselves against a lucky strike.
Verdecchia sued the Elks. The lodge sued the dealer. The dealer sold the car. Everybody was headed to court, but then they worked out an agreement under which the club and the car company would make things right with the golfer – only nobody will say exactly how.
“There is a confidentiality clause in the settlement,” said Verdecchia’s attorney Evelyn Savage.
Brad van Laningham, who represented Pinehurst Nissan, said they’d all thought ahead about coming up with a statement they could release despite nondisclosure terms in the agreement. The lawyer for the Elks, Kent Smith, said the charity tournament would resume this year and would have a hole-in-one contest as usual. Savage supplied a copy of the joint statement.
“Pinehurst Nissan, Southern Pines Elks Lodge and Paul Verdecchia are pleased to announce that they have resolved their dispute surrounding Mr. Verdecchia’s entitlement to a car as a prize for scoring a hole-in-one during the 2010 Emil Froelich Golf Tournament,” it says. “Although Pinehurst Nissan and Southern Pines Elks Lodge disagreed as to several key facts, they both agreed that Mr. Verdecchia deserved to be compensated for his hole-in-one. In recognition of this fact, Pinehurst Nissan and Southern Pines Elks Lodge have put their differences aside and have together compensated Mr. Verdecchia for his outstanding accomplishment. Mr. Verdecchia has dismissed his claims against all parties. All parties are very pleased with the terms of the settlement.”
This year the Elks are negotiating with another dealer for a prize car, according to Eli Jaksic. The 2011 Emil Froehlich Memorial Golf Tournament tees off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 18. Entry fee is $75, and applications are available at the club office and the pro shop.
“We raise money to support programs for children and adults with disabilities,” Jaksic said Monday afternoon. “Over the years we’ve put computers in classes for children with disabilities. We give checks to teachers to help them. They give us a letter saying things they need, and we sent them checks. We gave out $3,000 last year just for this.”
Every year the club uses funds from the tournament to throw a “Fun Day” at the club for children with disabilities of various kinds.
“Over the last 14 years we’ve entertained over 7,000 children on Fun Day at the Elks,” he said. “We have clowns, a zoo, swimming, face painting, fire trucks to climb on, police dogs to pet. We also have a poster contest for the kids and give out prizes for that. We feed every kid after they get done playing.”
There’s something for grown-ups, too.
“For adults with disabilities, we have a Halloween Dance,” Jaksic said. “All the money from the tournament goes to help disabled people in Moore County.”
The hole-in-one car isn’t the only prize aside from prizes for tournament winners.
“We have a raffle, too,” he said. “There are probably 60 to 70 prizes.”
Verdecchia could not be reached for comment, but many a golfer will likely be checking to see if he’s driving a new car sometime soon.
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