NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Neil Olestrom retired about 21 years ago and played a lot of golf over the period of rest and relaxation. And he's seen his share of 50-foot putts over the years.
The Old Orchard Beach, Maine resident, though, faced one particular 50-footer two weeks ago at Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown. But this time there was something on the line: $10,000.
Olestrom, 73, was playing in the Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley's Annual Golf Classic, his fifth time playing in the tourney.
This charity event helps older folks, clients of the agency, across the Valley with unique situations like fixing a broken pair of dentures or eyeglasses. And other times responding emergency assistance with an extra tank of oil for heat, food or filling an unexpected prescription because of illness.
Olestrom has played with the same group over the last half-decade, including Ed Kittredge, fellow "Mainer" Ron Wilcox and Wayne Forsythe, of Salem, New Hampshire.
"I always look forward to coming down for this tournament," said Olestrom, who runs into Kittredge during summers in Old Orchard Beach.
While the Kittredge group played "solidly" in the scramble format, finishing ninth or 10th according to Olestrom, the fireworks really started afterward.
"Between the ninth and 10th hole, there was a putting contest where you had to make a 15-footer to advance to the next round after the tournament," Olestrom said. "I walked up and hit the putt. I didn't really think anything of it."
After their round, Olestrom was one of only 10 people to qualify for the $10,000 challenge putt. The person who made or came closest on a 25-foot putt would the be the lone person to attempt the 50-footer for the big prize.
"The gal in front of me putted and she ended up being the closest to that point, at 43 inches," Olestrom said. "I was next and got it one inch closer. And I ended up winning that portion."
Then Olestrom walked over to the 50-footer with his Odessey Two-Ball putter.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Olestrom said. "I don't know why. I just looked at the putt, which was a little uphill and broke to the left. I went up, looked at the line ... and hit it. I remember feeling really good after I hit it."
The putt did exactly like he thought it would, breaking left.
"It just disappeared into the hole," Olestrom said. "It didn't really hit me until afterward, when everyone -- about 40 to 50 people on the balcony -- got all excited. I just said, 'Hey, it went in the hole!'"
Lost in the thrill afterward, in the conference room at the post-golf dinner, was the fact that Olestrom didn't buy anyone a beer for the hole in one, a long-held hole-in-one tradition.
"Actually, someone bought me a beer in the excitement," Olestrom said. "I apologize for that."
While Olestrom has played hundreds of rounds over his life, particularly since retiring from John Deere Manufacturing Co., he's never had a hole-in-one.
Olestrom and his wife, Jane, are planning a cruise to Europe in 2016. That putt two weeks ago in Georgetown will more than cover that trip.
"This sure makes up for all those close calls I had over the years," Olestrom said.
This article was written by Bill Burt from The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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