Man claims he never got prize car


"With a game like mine, I always hope just to get it on the green," he told ABC11.

But Verdecchia looked like a pro at a charity golf tournament at the Southern Pines Golf Club in June. He hit a hole-in-one on the 14th hole.

"When I hit the ball, my buddy said 'That looks like a good shot.' People up there who were witnesses started jumping up and down, and at that point, I realized I got a hole in one," Verdecchia recalled.

"I was thinking: 'I just got a hole in one.' The guys I was golfing with were thinking: 'You just won a car.'"

A car because Verdecchia says the tournament organizers advertised that a player who hit a hole-in-one on the 14th hole would win a car provided by Pinehurst Nissan.

Charity golf tournament organizers frequently line up such prizes to lure in more players - which helps raise more money for the charity they're supporting.

The tournament was organized by the Southern Pines Elks Lodge, and member Eli Jaksic told ABC11 he worked it all out with a salesman from Pinehurst Nissan.

"He said 'I'll sponsor a car,'" Jaksic recalled. "I gave him the information when the tournament would be held - about the hole in one … He said 'I'll take care of it.' I said 'Fine,'"

Jaksic says he even talked up Pinehurst Nissan in a local radio interview a few days before the tournament and contacted the dealership first.

"I said 'I'm going to be interviewed on the radio. Do I have your permission to go ahead and say Nissan will go ahead and have a car?' He said 'Yes, that would be great,'" Jaksic recalled.

Southern Pines Golf Club Assistant Club Professional Matt Vick helped Pinehurst Nissan stage the car.

"They called and brought the car out and I asked if it was for the tournament and they said yes," he said.

The car was placed right out front on the practice green.

"It had balloons on it and a sign," said Verdecchia. "We were told shortly afterwards that this car was the prize for hitting a hole-in-one off the white tees on hole 14."

And on 14, Verdecchia got his first ever hole-in-one and then took some smiling pictures by the car. But his smile soon vanished when he got a phone call from the dealership.

"An hour later it was Pinehurst Nissan, and they announced to me they were not supplying me with any car - that they were not responsible - they just had a car out there for display purposes," he said.

It was a claim that the Southern Pines Elks Lodge president says shocked him too.

"Who gave you permission to put it out solely for advertising?" Grimm says he asked the dealer. "I said: 'The only person who can give you permission is me, and I didn't give you permission.'" claimed Jack Grimm.

Assistant pro Matt Vick doesn't agree with the dealer's explanation either.

"The only times cars are brought out - in my experience - is if you're the title sponsor, and if you're the title sponsor, you're usually giving out a car at some point in the day," he offered.

"There's nothing that putting a car out in front of a putting green does to dress up the place. We wouldn't request a car for decoration at our club. It would have to be there for a purpose," he continued.

Verdecchia says he's left stuck in the middle.

"Someone dropped the ball. They didn't insure the car, but that's not my issue. I entered the tournament, hit the hole in one, and won the contest," he said.

So, the Elks Lodge turned to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson and we called Pinehurst Nissan.

The General Manager told us to contact the dealership's owner, but he didn't return our calls.

We were able to track down the attorney who represents Pinehurst Nissan.

He told us the Elks did ask Pinehurst Nissan to provide a car for the hole-in-one contest, but because of the economy, they were not in a position to offer one.

He said the car Pinehurst Nissan provided was only meant to spruce up the tournament and give it a professional look. He also says there's no contract tying Pinehurst Nissan to the hole-in-one contest.

"We've been doing this 10-to-14 years and any dealer we had dealt with never had a contract. They take care of their particulars and brought the vehicle out and that was it. We've never done it, so we never expected that we would have to do it now," offered Elks President Jack Grimm.

As for Verdecchia? He says he just wants what he was promised.

"I'd like to see a car in my garage," he said. "I have to believe ultimately the right thing is going to be done."

But, months have passed and he still has no car.

Verdecchia is now suing Pinehurst Nissan and the Southern Pines Elks Lodge.

The Elks told ABC11 all the drama is hurting the real purpose of the tournament - which is to help disabled folks in the community.

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