Lebron Sterchi has been playing golf since his high school days, but he’d never reached the dream of every golfer, a hole-in-one.
Sterchi, a retired coach and principal in the Hamilton County system and now a consultant with Silverdale Baptist Academy, could not have selected a better time to put a 1 on his scorecard.
Playing in the annual Lee University Stanley Butler Shootout at Chatata Valley Golf Club with Mike Palmer, Walter Howard and Doug Storey, Sterchi selected a 4-iron hybrid for his shot on the par 3, 168-yard hole.
“I knew it was exactly 168 yards to the hole,” said Sterchi. “The two Lee coaches (John Maupin and Chad Wilson) were at the tee box and said they had measured the distance. Also, one of my partners had a range finder. I just wanted to make sure my shot reached the green.”
Sterchi, who had come close to a hole-in-one over the years, launched his shot. “I knew I had hit the green and the ball was rolling toward the hole, but I lost track,” he admitted. “All at once my partners started shouting, it went in the hole. It went in!”
The veteran golfer is one of those guys who have to see it before he believes it. As his golf cart neared the green, he quickly looked across the green. There wasn’t a ball to be seen. He knew all three of his partners had earlier missed the green with their shots and he rushed to the pin placement.
Retrieving his golf ball from the bottom of the cup not only made his long-standing dream come true, it was worth a cash prize of $10,000 given to anyone with a hole-in-one on No. 8 in the tournament.
“I pulled out my cellphone and called my wife (Debbie),” he said. “I told her something had just happened and she allowed I might have been in a car wreck! I quickly assured her I was alright and I’d just won $10,000. She went crazy.”
Sterchi has two plans for his winnings. He’s going to take his wife of 41 years on a nice trip, and then after giving Uncle Sam his share and allowing the church a percentage, he’ll begin trying to replace his 1997 Blazer.
“It is showing 170,000 miles and the air conditioner hasn’t worked for two years, so I’m going to be searching for a car, not a new one, but something a little newer.”
He also might offer a few words of encouragement to thousands of golfers still searching for that first hole-in-one. “Don’t give up! I play in a few tournaments with friends and I love playing and traveling to other courses.” And now he has a great hole-in-one story to share with all his golfing friends.