Marc Zimmerman poured in the putt of his life at the Willow Ridge Men’s Member/Guest Tournament this year and picked up a $10,000 prize to reward his prowess (or luck). The Rye Brook resident was chosen at random for the attempt to make a 65-foot putt on the club’s treacherous ninth green as part of the post-tournament festivities. There was no practice, either, just one stroke for the big payoff.
“I have a bunch of friends at Willow Ridge and the member/guest is a highlight of my golf season,” Zimmerman says. “I’ve known my host, Steve Shapiro, for over 30 years since we went to college together.” The duo teamed up with two other friends to place second in the low gross competition during the regular play that day and had a lot of fun in the process. “As is the norm for summer outings, we did a respectable job of staying ‘hydrated’ during the round,” he says. “Then, during the cocktail hour and dinner, we continued to hydrate, so we were not feeling much pain.”
At the height of the festivities, Willow Ridge head pro John Reeves pulled Zimmerman’s ticket from a fishbowl and the real fun began in front of an audience of the other 120 tournament players.
“I walked to the ninth green and John Reeves handed me a putter. Unfortunately, it was a right-handed club and I’m a lefty,” Zimmerman recalls. “At that point, though, he could have given me an umbrella and it wouldn’t have mattered much.” One his friends ran to the car and brought back Zimmerman’s own putter.
Before him lay a daunting challenge. “The cup must be ten feet below the ball and there’s a big ridge on the green, so I essentially had to putt with my back to the cup,” he explains. “The possibility that I’d putt the ball right off the green was very real. But I didn’t think too much — I just hit the ball and hoped I wouldn’t embarrass myself too much.
“The ball gets to the ridge and I stand and watch as it makes a righthand turn and heads toward the cup. It picks up some speed as it goes down the slope and Reeves says ‘it’s got a chance!’ I must have waited ten seconds for the ball to get to the hole. When it goes in, pandemonium breaks out!”
“Within the next five minutes, I must have had a hundred texts congratulating me on making the putt. And needless to say, drinks for the rest of the night were on me.” Zimmerman says the prize money will probably go toward a birthday party for him and his wife and everybody who texted their congratulations will get an invitation.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the entire affair? Zimmerman says, “Seriously, that was the only putt I made all day long!”