Craig Stevens is a hobby golfer. He goes occasionally in the summer when he's back in Pictou County visiting his parents. Until Sunday he had never come closer than five or six feet to a hole-in-one.
He made his first count big during the first Glen Lovat Hole-In-One Tournament as he aced the 172-yard hole no. 15 to win $15,000 courtesy of RBC Financial Group, the tournament sponsor.
"It was pretty surreal to be honest with you," Stevens said of the experience.
The tournament had a shotgun start so he and his parents and a family friend started on hole no. 14. They then meandered over to hole no. 15 where RBC representatives told them that the players before them had come within half-a-foot of acing it.
Pulling out his 6-iron Stevens took his swing and watched as it went slightly to the side of the hole and began to roll. The ball dropped out of sight and Stevens saw golfers near it begin to jump in excitement.
Stevens leaned on his knees. "No f-ing way, no f-ing way."
"Sure enough the guys went down and picked the ball out of the ground."
The odds of hitting a hole-in-one are estimated to be about one in 12,000. The odds of hitting it when there is a prize at stake are even less.
"Lucky, very, very lucky," Zdravka Galic, course owner said of the shot.
She said she had media from throughout the region calling to talk about the feat.
“It’s nice to see it happen to someone who’s not a professional golfer,” she said.
It’s great publicity for the course, especially since it was their first time holding a hole-in-one tournament.
"Knowing what happened this year, I bet everyone will want it next year," she said.
Stevens said what made the day even more special was that he was able to get the shot with his family watching.
They were equally as pleased to be there. His mother Ann Stevens said it was just amazing to see it. She also has a lucky swing and got a hole-in-one two years ago, but without the payout her son’s earned.
Despite the excitement, the Stevens continued to play the rest of the course, although Craig admits his shots weren’t the best after that.
“I was just shaking,” he said. “It was tough to swing a club after that.”
As they played though they were treated with celebrity status, with one youth even stopping Craig so he could have his picture taken with him.
He was teased that he is now a professional because of the earnings he made.
He has no plans of chasing Tiger Woods on the greens just yet though. He’ll stick with his job as a business consultant in Halifax.
Guaranteed he’ll be back for the hole-in-one tournament next year though.
“I definitely will,” he said.