It was o’dark hundred at the Paris Hotel and Casino, Thursday morning, October 27, 2016, as some 60, bleary-eyed golfers made their way to the bus for ATRA’s Powertrain Expo Golf Tournament at Angel Park Golf Course, Las Vegas. No one could have predicted what was waiting for us.
Expo Golf has been on the back burner at ATRA for the last few years. Sure, a few people played golf on Thursdays before the trade show opened, but the work required for a real tournament was simply beyond the capacity of ATRA’s hard-working staff.
This year, one man — Mike Avila of Slauson Transmission Parts — wanted to bring back the good old days by convincing sponsors to come up with money for the bus; a light breakfast; a putting contest; long drive hole; a full, sit-down lunch; tee prizes; a $30,000 hole-in-one contest; and the all-important drink tickets for every group. And bring it back he did, in fine fashion, too!
The day started routinely enough with a continental breakfast, getting nice rental clubs, placing bags on the right carts, and getting organized. Then the putting contest started.
The winner was Hector Gonzales of Slauson Transmission Parts, with 2nd place to Rob Ganzeboom, Ganzeboom Transmission Parts in The Netherlands. Some of us had zero points, but it was a fun start to great day in beautiful Las Vegas.
Angel Park Hole #4, a 170-yard, par 3, was where the magic happened. Playing in Group 13, Tim Ellwanger of Borg Warner made a hole in one! It was witnessed by his three playing partners: Tom Hardies of Borg Warner, and Bill Fantozz and Troy Eakins, both of Seal Aftermarket Products.
It was also witnessed by nonplaying observers Chris Wilson of Slauson, Steve Deckard of JDS Worldwide, and my charming wife Charis Pasley, a real trooper who got up at 4:30 in the morning to sit and watch people play the same golf hole for a few hours in return for a nice lunch… and some unexpected fun.
The odds of making a hole in one is 12,500 to 1 according to Golf Digest; a once-in-a-lifetime day for most golfers. But why were there so many witnesses? Well, ATRA Supplier Member Joe De Santino of JDS Worldwide sponsored Hole 4 with a $30,000 prize, insured by American Hole N One. To get a claim paid for a hole in one by any insurance company requires a lot of independent, disinterested eyeballs, with notarized affidavits to prove it was on the up and up. This hole in one was totally legit!
Word of Tim’s hole in one spread across Angel Park Golf Course like a desert wildfire. Joe De Santino was happy he bought the insurance, too!
The same excitement was there when Expo’s Trade show opened. It was a day none of us will forget… especially Tim Ellwanger. Congratulations Tim, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer ATRA Good Guy!
The scramble format was a lot of fun, making every player a winner. The biggest winner wasn’t Tim or Mike; it was the transmission rebuilding industry. We saw the fiercest of business competitors, Supplier Members, and shop owners talking, enjoying their mutual interest and friendship. Oh what a day it was!
Thank you Mike Avila and the sponsors:
Slauson Transmission Parts