Jessica Grainger, with her son, accepts first prize for hitting the tee shot closest to the pin in 2018.

Jessica Grainger says that she is usually the one watching her husband compete in the finals of the Stock Yards Bank Kentucky Derby Festival $1 Million Dollar Hole-in-One Golf Contest. But last year she was the one to cheer on as she became the first female to get closest to making the hole-in-one.

Going into the contest’s 30th year, no one has yet to do it. But, Jessica did win the  $5,000 first prize for hitting the tee shot closest to the pin. Grainger hit her tee shot 9 feet 2 ¼ inches from the cup.

Preparation

Grainger has played golf since she was in the 6th grade, with a few gaps in between for when she had her two children.  She said she and her husband didn’t do any special preparation for the contest except for “going to the driving range at our club one day where we hit about 50 balls.”

“Although I have played golf for a while, the contest really comes down to luck.”

Last year was her first year for qualifying for the finals, the third for her husband. Asked how her husband reacted to her winning and not him, Grainger laughed and said, “Oh, that was a sore point. Especially since I got to keep the check. He told me he is going to beat me this year by winning the $1 million. I told him I had no problem with that.”

On her birthday, Grainger’s husband gifted her with a plaque that contained an article that was written about her win and the check that she was issued by the Kentucky Derby Festival. It now hangs in their home.

Ladies Day

Grainger was number 19 out of 56 people to compete the day she won. That meant that it was a waiting game all day to find out if she would come out on top. “I had to wait and see if anyone was going to beat my 9 feet 2 ¼ inches from the cup,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe it! Usually, I’m cheering my husband on in the finals and this year it was me,” said Grainger, who also won the Long Drive Competition in the women’s division.

What are her plans for this year? Grainger said she will be right back out there for this year’s Hole-in-One contest. “I was the first woman to win by being closest to the pin. I’d like to make history again by doing it back to back.”

Join the excitement

If you like to golf, you don’t need much of a reason to pick up a club. But knowing that a fine-tuned swing or stroke of luck could make you $1 million dollars richer? That just makes it all that more exciting.

From April 18 to April 28 (except for Easter Sunday on April 21), anyone from beginners to scratch golfers can take a shot during the preliminaries to earn the chance to reach the semifinals and finals of the contest.

Ten people will qualify for the semi-finals each day of the preliminaries. Anyone who hits a hole-in-one will advance directly to the final round. Semi-finalists will be given three shots to try to secure their spot in the finals.

The schedule

Preliminaries for the Stock Yards Bank Kentucky Derby Festival $1 Million Dollar Hole-in-One Golf Contests will be held from April 18 to April 28, with semi-finals starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 28 at Seneca Golf Course Driving Range. The cost is $1 per shot and is free for spectators.

The finals are held Tuesday, April 30 at 6 pm at Seneca Golf Course, Hole #8. The golfer with the closest ball will take home $5,000 presented by Stock Yards Bank. Top finishers will also walk away with other exciting prizes.

All other Daily Specials also happen at Seneca Golf Course and include:

  • Saturday, April 20, 10:00 am to 8:30 pm:  Jr. Day – Under 18 get 2 shots for $1; Over 18, $ per shot.
  • Saturday, April 20, 12 pm to 8 pm: Jr. Long Drive Contest, 12 – 8 pm, 2 shots for $5. Two divisions, 13 and under/14-18.
  • Monday, April 22: First Responders and Veterans Day get 2 shots for $1.
  • Tuesday, April 23, 10 am to 8:30 pm: Ladies Day at Stock Yards Bank, Ladies get 2 shots for $1.
  • Tuesday, Ladies Long Drive Contest, 12 – 8 pm, 2 shots for $5. Two divisions, 49 and under/50 and up.
  • Wednesday, April 24, 12 pm to 8 pm: Men’s Long Drive Contest. 2 shots for $5.
  • Senior Special Weekdays 10 am – 2 pm, 62 and up get 2 shots for $1.

Please note that the actual hole-in-one has to be shot during the Finals to receive the $1 million prize.

For more information on the competition, visit KDF.org.

 

Kentucky Derby Festival

Kentucky Derby Festival

We are a not-for-profit, community organization of 4,000 volunteers who work all year to provide quality entertainment that enhances the Louisville community.Our Festival blasts off each April with our Opening Ceremonies - Thunder Over Louisville, now the nation's largest annual fireworks extravaganza! The ensuing two weeks of over 70 special events promises something for everyone!