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Boy, 7, comes up aces during Shootout

One way or another, young Kyle Snowden was going to hit golf balls during a Million Dollar Shootout at Rogue Valley Country Club.

Kyle, 7, and his brother Tyler, 9, tagged along with Mom and Dad to the contest that is open to the public and has run since last weekend. It continues today (4 to 8 p.m.) and Saturday (noon to 4 p.m.) as part of RVCC's 92nd birthday celebration. The finals, with $1 million at stake, are Saturday at 5 p.m.

The kids weren't eligible to compete because the minimum age is 18. But on Sunday, when Mike and Ashley Snowden bought a batch of balls and took aim, their boys sneaked over and pilfered a few before Dad caught on.

"Mike didn't want to share his balls," laughed Ashley. "... He wanted to hog them."

Tracy Snyder, the head pro at RVCC, noticed the despondent boys and retrieved a mat and range balls for them to use. If they hit the green, they'd get a prize, a prospect that has been open to kids since.

Kyle did more than hit the green. He made a hole-in-one.

Ashley was working the registration table.

"I saw it just as they were screaming," she said. "I think it rolled a little."

Kyle used his 7-iron and a reverse grip, something his instructor, Ed Fisher, is trying to get him to change.

"It's hard to argue with now," said Ashley.

Kyle's reaction to the shot — it plays about 105 yards — was subdued as others about him rejoiced. He's shy, said his mother, "but I think he was excited."

Since he already had a hat, Snyder gave him a flag with his name, age and the hole designation. His father once received a flag for making an ace on the par-4 13th at Centennial Golf Club.

"He wanted to have one like Dad," said Ashley.

Kyle and Tyler are in the junior program at RVCC. Kyle won the three-hole group last summer.

The Snowdens have been to the Shootout every day except Wednesday, when it was canceled a third of the way through because of lightning.

The hope, of course, is to win a million dollars. But neither parent "has done as well as he (Kyle) did," said Ashley.

Others fared well, however. There were holes-in-one each of the first four days.

The shot "funnels right to the hole if you get it to the right side of the pin," said Snyder.

Prizes are given to the top 10 hitters each day.

Aces were made by Dave Welt (Saturday), Jeff Barry (Sunday), Fisher (Monday) and Tom Pepple (Tuesday). Fisher, a teaching pro at the club, is ineligible for the finals. The next closest on Monday was Steve Swartsley, who was within 7 inches.

The closest during Wednesday's abbreviated session was Mike Cornish at 14 inches.

The public gets three shots for $10; club members get five shots for $10. Players can enter as many times as they like.

The first four days averaged about 70 players, said Snyder.

In the finals, the daily winners will get one shot from 175 yards on the 18th hole of the club's outside course. The order will be determined by a draw. The first one to make it wins $1 million. Cash prizes will be awarded if no one makes it.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com

Kyle Snowden displays the hole flag he received after making an ace on Sunday. PHOTO FROM THE SNOWDEN FAMILY