Published on August 19, 2013
Barry Sparkes and Iris Pitcher were all smiles in the 2013 Corolla Sparkes won after hitting a hole-in-one at the Provincial Mixed Tournament in Grand Falls-Windsor last weekend. Sparkes won’t be keeping the car, he plans to cash it in and split it down the middle with his teammate Iris.
Published on August 19, 2013
From left, Jason Thistle of Grand Toyota presents Barry Sparkes and Iris Pitcher with keys to a 2013 Toyota Corolla they won at the Provincial Mixed Tournament last weekend when Sparkes hit a hole-in-one.
Lucky shot means big prize for golf duo
When Iris Pitcher and her husband Cyril's children had grown, and he finally retired from his job at the mill, the pair decided to take up golfing together. Iris was 60 years old when she started hitting the green with Cyril, better known to his friends as Sash, and for 25 years they played together at the Grand Falls Golf Club. When Sash passed away in 2009, a bench was erected in his memory at hole 16 of the course the couple had spent many happy days together.
Barry Sparkes started his love affair with the game of golf when he was 10 years old, and reginited that love at age 20 when he was working in Alberta.
"I happened to get a job where I was getting off at 3 o'clock in the day and the golf course wasn't far from where I lived, so I started playing golf and bang, hooked, just like that. I've been playing now for 34 years straight," he said.
Last year Sparkes, who now works at the golf course, ran into Iris volunteering at one of the holes at the Provincial Mixed Tournament. He asked her why she wasn't playing.
"She told me she couldn't get nobody to play with, so I said I'll tell you what, I'll play with you now until one of us dies," Sparkes said with a laugh. As a joke, Iris got him to sign a contract that they left with the pro shop attendant at the course.
True to his word, when the tournament came around this year, Sparkes and Iris split the registration cost and teamed up.
For the last ten years Grand Toyota in Grand Falls-Windsor has been offering a whopper prize for the first person to get a hole-in-one at the Provincial Mixed Tournament: a brand new car. And until this weekend, nobody had been lucky enough to take home the prize.
Sparkes and Iris were at hole 16 with the other two pairs in their group when Iris showed the others the bench in her husband's memory.
"I'll tell you in my words what (Sparkes) said, he said 'now Sash, that hole, thats a hole-in-one, there's a car up, you better put that ball in the hole,'" Iris said.
To the shock and amazement of the group, Sparkes did.
"There was six of us on the tee box and we all went in shock, it hit the green, bounced, bounced again and just rolled right in the hole. One of the other guys who was sitting in a chair jumped up and yelled 'you got a hole-in-one, you got a hole-in-one!'" Sparkes said.
Sunday's hole-in-one wasn't Sparkes' first, but it's the only one that has won him a 2013 Toyota Corolla Sport valued at $23,000.
Sparkes said he was thrilled to have won the car, but he didn't think twice about his decision to trade it for cash and split it down the middle with his teammate Iris.
"I've had so many people say to me 'how come you're splitting it with her? you don't have to do that, she had her chance for her hole-in-one on Saturday you had your chance on Sunday,'" Sparkes said. "There's no I in team. I've got to live with me, and I'm not going to accept that prize and give her nothing when she's my teammate."
Spakres and Iris were all smiles Friday morning at Grand Toyota when they were offically presented the keys to their car.
Jason Thistle with Grand Toyota said he's thrilled for Iris and Sparkes.
"We've been sponsoring the hole-in-one for the Provincial Mixed for probably about ten years. I'm a supporter of the club, I've got a lot of friends and a lot of customers up there so I just thought it was a right corporate thing to do," Thistle said. "We've had a number of cars up on that hole over the years and I've just been waiting for a phone call every weekend. On Sunday my parents were actually up playing and my mother had called me on the cell phone and said 'You're not going to believe this, somebody won your car.' I thought it was awesome, and then I heard the story and thought it was even better."
Spakes is currently in the midst of renovating his home and said the cash will help out with that a lot. He also plans to pay the golf memberships of the four others that played in their group next season, and buy a meal of KFC for the golf course employees. Iris said she isn't sure what she'll do with her cut yet.
"Barry said said before we started, whatever I win, half is yours," Iris said. "He didn't have to do that, he did it out of the goodness of is heart."
"More like the goodness of my mother's heart," Sparkes said with a chuckle. "It's my mothers fault I'm like I am."