On a cold and blustery Monday — which is all anyone can expect from a spring morning in Michigan — three centennial Marines and two 100-year-old Army veterans sat poised to face off for their equivalent of The Masters. While no Green Jacket was on the line, pride certainly was as the veterans teed off at the Dearborn Hills Golf Course.
The event, coordinated by Marine veteran Chuck Bernard, was to commemorate the 100th birthdays of the Marines. All reached that milestone within several weeks of one another this past April and May.
After a short warmup, in which Procassini nabbed a hole-in-one and declared “I’m done!” the Marines were off, dominating the green in a three-putt challenge.
Russell — a veteran of Tarawa, Saipan, and Tinian — was up first. After three shots, Russell found the hole. Seemingly pleased with his starting efforts, Russell moved off to watch the other two who followed.
Procassini — a veteran of the Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns — flush from his hole-in-one during the warmup, only needed two strokes to find the hole.
Gazel, the “youngest” of the trio — and the man who once told HistoryNet that to live a long life one must always: wear comfortable shoes; eat their fruits and vegetables; take two shots of brandy every night with their dinner; and, most importantly, don’t play leapfrog with a unicorn — was up last.
No oxygen tank could slow down this veteran who saw action at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa.
The ever-animated Gazel came out of the gate strong, immediately putting a hole-in-one to the cheers of his adoring fans.
What happens when you get a couple of 100-year-old Marines together for a putting competition?
Nothing short of a battle royale. pic.twitter.com/NqX91yyJg7
— HistoryNet (@HistoryNet) May 10, 2021
The second hole played out much like the first, and as the veterans rounded onto the third hole, Gazel held a dominant lead. However, ever the competitor, Procassini would not go down easily and was in hot pursuit of his own golfing glory.
The air was thick with tension (or perhaps it was just the chilling wind) as Procassini teed up for his last round. Undershooting the first stroke, Procassini laid it on for the second and overshot his mark. A call went out for a gimme, but Procassini wouldn’t have it. Nor would Gazel for that matter, who could be heard shouting from the back, “No way!”
No way indeed. Procassini finished the round with a respectable three strokes, edging out Russell by one.
Gazel lined up confidently — his victory all but assured— and found the hole in just two strokes, sealing his victory over Procassini and Russell.
The event was capped with a Dearborn Hills Golf Course hat being presented to the champion before the veterans, and this digital media editor, hastily made their way to the warmth of their respective cars.