ASHLAND – The cameras were rolling, the hecklers were taunting, the pressure was mounting and the No. 10 hole at the Ashland Golf Club proved to be unforgiving.
On what might have been an idle summer afternoon most other places, the club hosted a one-of-a-kind, made-for-TV event Tuesday featuring some of the best golfers in the Ashland area.
Jimmy Hanlin, Tony Rizzo and their crew were welcomed to town for a shooting of Pin Shot, a TV show now in its sixth year on Bally Sports Great Lakes which challenges golfers to sink a hole-in-one, or at least get close to it.
The outing was months in the making for the club, which has had a banner summer while celebrating its 100th year of golf with a variety of events. Eighth-year course PGA pro Dennis North said the idea to try to get the well-known Hanlin and Rizzo to town came up during discussions in wintertime about what to do during the centennial summer.
“I thought it was perfect,” North said. “Have Jimmy and those guys out here to help celebrate our 100 years. I thought it was a no-brainer to do it.”
The show invites roughly 20 golfers to test their skills on a par-3 hole. The competitors, typically locals with ties to the course (and usually plenty of talent), try to win prizes by knocking as many as three balls close to the pin.
If a first shot lands on the green, the golfer either wins a dozen golf balls and a gift certificate or moves on to a second shot. From there, the ensuing shot has to land within 30 feet of the hole, which wins the competitor a golf bag and the previous prizes.
If they choose to let it ride and attempt a third and final shot, it must land within 15 feet of the hole. Anyone who pulls it off takes home a 70” TV, a driver and all the previous prizes.
An ace, meanwhile, rewards the golfer with a new car.
Hanlin, a PGA pro with an Emmy-winning background featuring multiple televised golf shows, stands at the tee and interviews each competitor.
Rizzo, known throughout Ohio as the long-time host of The Really Big Show on ESPN Cleveland, adds comical, back-and-forth banter with his co-host as he waits and watches the results up close from the green.
“It’s definitely our most fun show to do,” said Hanlin, who has played the Ashland Golf Club multiple times through the years during charity outings. “When you have Tony Rizzo in your ear for an hour and a half you get to laugh a lot.
“A lot of times the community and the golf course will rally around it, which is really cool.”
Ashland didn’t disappoint Tuesday. With the elevated No. 10 hole next to the clubhouse serving as the setting in perfect weather conditions, plenty of club regulars and local golf fans gathered to overlook the action and spice up the show.
Ev DeVaul, who helps with operations at Ashland Golf Club, tried to stir up some good soundbites.
“The gallery up there, you can clap or boo or whatever,” he said. “We don’t have any specials, but drink as much as you want.”
There were plenty of reasons to heckle; fewer than half of the 20 golfers landed a ball on the green.
Hanlin said he wasn’t surprised the hole played tough, calling it probably the hardest one the show has ever had from a distance standpoint. He said the minimum distance they allow is 155 yards, so the best option on AGC’s No. 10 was from the 180-yard red tees.
“We thought No. 10 made the most sense,” North said, “with the elevation where people could watch close to the clubhouse without having to drive (to get to the featured hole).”
Former Ashland University football head coach Lee Owens opened up the action by duffing his first and only shot.
“You know, third down and 20 (in football) is a lot easier than 180 yards in front of all these people,” Owens said with a laugh.
Cassidy Schaub represented Ashland Golf Club’s Monday Night League and heard plenty of boos while donning a Michigan shirt and hat.
“You’re just begging for a ribbing with the outfit today,” Hanlin said.
“Oh, absolutely,” said Schaub, a Mapleton High School graduate and former professional bowler. “I love it and enjoy every minute of it.”
His straightaway first shot stopped short of the green. DeVaul called it a “Michigan bounce.” A few others shouted, “Go Bucks!”
Ashlander Jerry Coning, an AGC player’s card member, was celebrating his birthday Tuesday, and he gave an on-camera shout-out to his son, Jerod, who shares the same birthday.
Coning yelled, “Get ready, Rizzo!” toward the green before winding up his 5-iron and pulling his only shot.
Someone in the gallery screamed, “Thanks for winning me $50! I knew you were going left!”
North, who also is the Ashland University men’s golf coach, said the participants were chosen for a variety of reasons. Current and past performance at the club was a factor, while current and former AU golfers also were in on the action.
There was the father-daughter duo of Steve Paramore and Klaira Paramore, both state-qualifying golfers at Ashland High School before going on to collegiate careers.
Nancy Noble, an 11-time women’s club champion at Ashland Golf Club with four career holes-in-one, also made an appearance. She received one of the day’s loudest ovations before teeing off and nearly bouncing her attempt onto the frontside fringe.
“There were multiple ways that we (decided on how participants qualified to be on the show),” North said. “It was just a fun way of trying to spread it out and be grateful for those who have supported us all this time.
“We’ve got some really good players here, so we’re hoping that we do something good for those guys and make this fun to watch on TV.”
What easily was the best performance of the day came from Kory Oslie, a former golf coach for both the Ashland University women and Mapleton High School who now teaches sixth-grade math at Ashland.
He tried his luck three times with a 7-iron and found the green with each swing, nearly hitting Rizzo with his first shot.
“The third swing was the best one,” Oslie said. “You just hope that you perform under pressure situations. The fact that I hit the green three times, I’m just elated.”
“We do see it, but (three shots on the green) is really good,” said Hanlin, adding that before a few people won all the prizes in August, it had probably been a year before it had happened last on the show.
Exactly how Oslie and the rest of the golfers performed should first air on Bally Sports Great Lakes in mid-September.
Hanlin said it should make for great TV.
“There’s just such a community feel here anyway, even without the 100th-year celebration,” he said. “To have something like this show come out there, I know (local golfers) get excited, which makes it even more fun.”
“The vista from (No. 10), for people to sit on the hill and watch people play golf is just tremendous,” Hanlin added. “I’m sure once we take this out of the cameras and put it onto the screen it’s gonna look really good.”