The sight of resort owner Jim Justice handing out crisp $100 bills to fans was one of the lasting images from The Greenbrier Classic last month. The debate over who will ultimately foot the bill for such generosity, though, rages on.
For the second straight year, Justice offered a bounty for any fans seated in the grandstands around the par-3 18th hole on the Old White TPC in the event of a hole-in-one during competition: $100 per person for the first ace, $500 for the second ace and $1,000 for the third ace. After two holes-in-one in the first round alone, Justice had reached into his pocket to the tune of $192,400. It turns out that those payments were insured, but now the insurance underwriter is suing The Greenbrier's charitable arm for breach and refusing to cover the payouts.
According to an AP report, the underwriters have filed suit in U.S. district court against Old White Charities. Their case is built upon two arguments. First, that Old White Charities missed a premium payment of $106,470 that was due July 1, the day before the first round began. Second, the insurance policy reportedly stipulated a minimum yardage of 170 yards, but both aces came from only 137 yards.
George McNeill and Justin Thomas both aced the signature hole with a pitching wedge during the opening round, with McNeill's shot sparking an $18,900 payout to fans, while Thomas' ace meant $173,500 to gallery members. The tournament also made donations of $25,000 and $50,000, respectively, to charities of McNeill's and Thomas' choosing.
Last year the only hole-in-one on No. 18 came during the third round, when Bud Cauley holed a 7-iron from 176 yards to earn each spectator around the green $100.