Jamie LaReau
Jamie LaReau
Retail / F&I Reporter

Another hole-in-one gives California dealer a second chance

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For eight years, Folsom Lake Kia and Folsom Lake Ford near Sacramento, Calif., have sponsored charity golf tournaments without anyone ever hitting a hole-in-one.

Yet for the second time this year, a golfer has put it in the cup, winning a new car. The dealer ironically calls it a karmic blessing. See, the first time it happened, at a May 7 golf event Folsom Lake Kia sponsored, it turned into a publicity disaster.

At that event, the golfer, Allan Ross, believed he had won a $66,000 Kia K900 sedan that was displayed prominently at the tee. But what he actually had won was a $25,000 gift certificate. The amount reflected how much the hole-in-one insurance policy would pay to the dealership. The golfer complained, and the controversy hit the news. General Manager Jon Peterson eventually agreed to give Ross the Kia K900 and eat the cost difference.

Heavily documented

On Monday, Peterson was teeing up at the latest charity golf event the stores sponsored when his cellphone rang. Caller ID showed it was a tournament organizer.

“I knew he was calling because someone had just made a hole-in-one,” Peterson said.

Indeed. It was the first time in 15 years of sponsoring that charity’s golf event that a golfer made the shot, winning his choice of either a Ford Fusion or Kia Optima, both displayed at the winning hole and worth $35,000. Or, the winner could opt for an equivalent gift voucher toward the purchase of a different vehicle. This time, the insurance covered the prize, and there were no misunderstandings, Peterson said.

“This one was overly documented,” Peterson said. “I will only put the car they’re going to win on the hole from now on.”

More winners

This will be the fourth car Peterson has given away in the past eight months, he said. The dealerships also sponsor a half-court shot at Sacramento Kings NBA games. Two Kings fans have made that shot this year, Peterson said.

“That’s usually a $15,000 car, but we get a lot of publicity when they make it because it’s all over the news,” Peterson said.

Peterson does not insure the Kings sponsorships because he said, “The insurance would be more than even two shot winners. So those come right out of our pocket.”

Peterson says his stores are sponsoring a golf tournament in two weeks for breast cancer charities and another golf event in September. His cost for insurance has not increased yet, he said, despite the winning shots. And he is actually hoping for more winners, he said.

“We could easily say we’re not doing this anymore, but what good would that do?” Peterson said. “When you buy the insurance, technically, you want them to make it and win the car because the insurance will give us $35,000 toward the car.”

Peterson admits the controversy surrounding the May 7 tournament generated bad publicity, but, he said, “all the facts did not come out.” For example, Peterson refused to allow the charity to pay the difference between the insurance amount and the Kia K900, he said.

Perhaps this latest hole-in-one is karma granting him a second chance to do it right and get some positive press.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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