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A hole-in-one is a rare occurrence in golf. But two together is rarer still. It does happen, however, as Old White Charities, a non-profit, learned the hard way during its hole-in-one contest at the 2015 Greenbrier Classic and Pro-Am golf tournament.
What really sunk the charity is that its insurance claim for the money has recently been denied by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Old White Charities sponsored the hole-in-one contest, promising to pay attending fans $100 for a hole-in-one and $500 for another hole-in-one at the 18th hole. Sounds like a fun promotion to have at a golf tournament, right?
Imagine the excitement when two professional golfers made the shot. The charity paid out $200,000 to happy fans, which isn't a bad way to build some golfing goodwill. Then it turned to its insurers for the money.
Minimum Yardage Policy
Old White's insurance policy required its hole-in-one contest to set a minimum distance of 170 yards. Indeed, the charity's insurance application initially stated a minimum 150 yards distance would be built-in, and that sounds smart. Yet for whatever reason, when the contest was held, the holes-in-one were made from 137 yards.
It's difficult to get money from an insurer when you violate such a clear term of the underlying policy. Granted, courts aren't often fond of insurance companies as litigants. But this is a pretty clear-cut case of "well, the policy says x and you didn't do x, counselor."
That's par for the course in the world of contract law.