Two Decades Of The Hole In One

Sixty thousand golf balls will be hit this year. Each contestant hoping to win that elusive million dollar prize.

Patriot volunteer Stefanie Roberts said, "We think that because this is our 20th anniversary, that this should be the year."

The event began in 1986, and Stepahnie has been there since day one.

"It was a very small beginning. We actually ran for six days, we had just the one site here in Tyler, and we had six qualifiers at the end of the week. Now we have upwards of fifty qualifiers, and we're running from two sites," Roberts said.

The Cox Patriot Hole In One has raised enough money to set-up three endowments. Those will provide scholarships for as long as the university has students.

University President Rodney Mabry said, "Some of it helps us attract truly high ability students, who get scholarship offers from several universities. We need to be able to compete for those students. Beyond that, scholarships are extremely important to the average student who has some need."

Mike Medders was a criminal justice major at the school in 1999. He was the first person to receive the Tommy Lee scholarship, named in memory of a long time participant in the hole in one contest.

"I was working full time, and going to school fulltime back in 1999, and I had a wife and three kids at home. So, you know, anything I could do to ease the financial burden on the family," Medders said.

Now, seven years later, Medders is serving as the university's police chief.

"It's really a dream come true, because when I was here in 1998, and 1999, finishing up my degree, I thought about it at the time. You know, this would be a good place to be a police chief," Medders said.

A success story like Medders, is one reason so many Patriot volunteers come back year after year.

"They feel like it's a valuable endeavor. They feel like they're doing something that's fun, but they're also doing something that's contributing to the community," Roberts said.

Many of them take time off from work and family to be a part of the event. They work long hours, to make sure everyone gets a shot at the big prize.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: