Chip Sullivan
Chip Sullivan had good reason to celebrate when he sank his 14th career hole-in-one on Tuesday. (Golf Channel / Turner Sports)

Ace improves Sullivan's adventurous week

Championship Week had been filled with an amazing run of, well, let's just say surprises for Chip Sullivan and his family. Then one perfect swing on Tuesday made things better -- much better.

By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- What started out as a hilariously difficult week at this 43rd PGA Professional National Championship for the Sullivan family took a turn for the better -- much better -- with one swing of the club.

Chip Sullivan, the PGA Director of Golf at Hanging Rock Golf Club in Salem, Va., took dead aim at the 192-yard 13th hole on Tuesday and made a fateful pass with a 6-iron that resulted in his 14th career ace, his fourth in competition. Even more, Sullivan happened to make his hole-in-one on the designated hole where the first recorded ace of the week would also win a new Club Car Precedent, one of the most advanced and innovative golf carts on the market today.

“Wow, unexpected,” beamed Sullivan, the winner of this event in  2007. “I hit a 6-iron on the hole before and hit it great, put it right behind the pin. And then had the same shot on the next hole, but with the wind in the complete opposite direction, so I tried it again. It never left the flagstick but I couldn’t see it go in. I knew I hit it close, but then they said it went in. That’s pretty neat.”

Sullivan’s wife Kari, added some perspective as to how the hole-in-one appropriately fit in into what’s been a wild week.

“It’s been a week of dreams,” she laughed as she waited to greet her husband after his round. “I’ve always said, ‘Golf is like a roller coaster,’ but that has been compressed into the greatest ride of our lives this week.”

The Sullivan’s week started with a nice family ride from their home in Troutville,Va., to French Lick. More than just a golf championship, it was a vacation of sorts with the three Sullivan children and Kari’s father, Tom Hall, who additionally serves as Chip’s caddie, along for the festivities. All were excited about the three-bedroom, two-bath cabin on the lake they had rented for the week.

“We see the beautiful lake as we are driving in, but we can’t find the cabin,” Kari recounted. “Finally find this tiny gravel road which we went down, and there it was. But instead of a dream cabin, which we thought we signed up for, it was a converted garage. I’m talking concrete floors and everything. So I had my hissy fit in the driveway but then we accepted that this was what we had, we would make the most of it.”

But the problematic accommodations were the least of there issues from there. In order to fit the family, the clubs and clothing for six, they decided to take two different cars. The Sullivans would come down a day earlier and Kari’s father would join them the next day.

“My father calls us the next morning and informs us that his back had blown out,” Kari continued. “So now, we have a great disappointment in our housing. Then my father is injured (he’s improving daily, she notes). And now, Chip has no caddie!”

But wait, as they say on the ubiquitous infomercials, there’s more!

“Now the kicker,” Kari laughed. “In order to make the drive as a family, and with space at a premium, we put all of my clothes and the children’s clothes in my father’s car. So now we have no clothes! I had to drive to Jasper (Ind.) to buy clothes for all of us, including a nice dress for The Champions Dinner and all the other formal festivities.”

But all’s well that ends well, even though the story hasn’t quite ended yet.

Sullivan was able to find a caddie, a local golf coach who was the last caddie available. He has played well, albeit in an erratic fashion, according to him, and remains in contention, tied for 11th going into the final round. And now, after one perfect 6-iron swing, the family has some additional luggage to take back to Troutville.

“Stay in the right lane” and “Stock up on cart batteries” have been some of the congratulatory greetings for Sullivan after his historic ace.

“I didn’t even know there was a Club Car available for doing it, so that’s going to be a great treat for my kids,” Chip noted with a smile.

There is another hole, the 16th, where a hole-in-one would earn the golfer a new Mercedes-Benz vehicle. Kari Sullivan had one final note on that.

“I love our friends at Club Car and we’re so grateful for it -- but I’m wondering if they didn’t mix up the holes?” she laughed.

©2012 PGA/Turner Sports Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
Turner Entertainment Digital NetworkPGA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.