Hilton Head golfer has big heart, deadly aim

tbarton@islandpacket.comSeptember 4, 2013 

David Cook pulled out his six iron and knocked a shot 175 yards straight at the flag. The ball bounced two feet in front of the pin and disappeared from view.

Cook walked up to the hole and bent over. A chill ran down his spine. He screamed and threw his arms in the air.

The 46-year-old Hilton Head Island resident aced the 13th hole at Wexford Plantation's Arnold Palmer Signature Course during play Saturday in the Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament, winning him a two-year lease on a 2014 BMW 535.

What happened next was even more shocking to many: Cook, of Lowcountry Finishes, donated the lease back to the tournament.

But for Cook -- who has been swinging a club for 37 years and already had two aces to his name -- accepting such a prize at a charity event didn't seem right.

"That's how I was raised -- to give back to the community," he said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "There was no delay. I immediately felt that's what I needed to do. My daughter went to Providence Children's Center (daycare), a beneficiary of the event, and this was my chance to pay it forward."

Cook said he is content driving his 2005 Chevrolet Express work van, and his wife a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer with 110,000 miles.

"Not only an amazing act of generosity, but (it) perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the tournament," said Paul Smith, executive director of the Celebrity Golf Tournament.

Since its inception in 1979, the tournament has donated nearly $4 million to charity, according to a news release from organizers.

"I don't know that I would have given it back," Smith said. "It's just incredibly generous. It helps us further our gifts to the 20 charities we support."

Michael Coleman, general manager at Hilton Head BMW, said underwriters are still determining the value of the lease and how to proceed, but the value of the donation "could be anywhere from the high teens to $30,000."

Odds of a hitting a hole-in-one are not as long as one might guess, according to U.S. Hole In One Insurance. The company provides insurance for golf outings and tournaments that place large sums of prize money on the line for hole-in-one competitions.

The odds of an amateur golfer making a hole in one on a par-3 hole are roughly 12,500 to 1, according to the company's website.

Assuming the event has a standard field of 100 amateurs and the course has the typical four par-3 holes, the chances of someone making an ace are roughly 1 in 32.

Even more rare is what Cook did next, Coleman said.

"I've done hundreds of these hole-in-one events," he said. "I've only given out a handful of cars ... and never once did someone donate it back to charity in my 26-year career with BMW. It was a pretty magnanimous gift. And, to me, that's the true feat we should be high-fiving."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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