HELENA, Mont. – Troy Peissig's surprise at acing an $18,000 hole-in-one contest at a charity tournament has been replaced by bitter disappointment now that he hasn't been paid a dime nearly two years after making the 170-yard shot.
Now state authorities are intervening, and issued an arrest warrant last week against the operator of an insurance company they say failed to pay up on a policy purchased by the Missoula tournament.
Peissig, a scratch golfer, said it is a case of "how a good situation can go bad quickly."
The Montana commissioner of securities and insurance said Kevin Kolenda of hole-in-won.com has been unresponsive in the case and now faces felony charges. The agency said Kolenda also has failed to pay in other cases around the country, and continues to operate the scam without a license to sell insurance even though he has been sanctioned by regulators in Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, and Washington.
Montana commissioner Monica Lindeen's office said it is highly uncommon to file felony charges — with an arrest warrant — against an insurance company. Usually disputes on unpaid claims are handled with fines or other administrative actions.
But the Montana regulators said they moved aggressively in order to stop Kolenda from selling the insurance all over the country, despite not holding a license to do so.
"We want to make sure these companies aren't getting a gimme when it comes to paying these claims," said Lindeen, who suggested people check first with regulators that sellers of such insurance are licensed and registered with state authorities.
Kolenda did not return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press seeking comment.
In a letter Kolenda sent to the tournament sponsor denying the claim, he claimed the hole was too short and violated the 165-yard minimum in the policy contract. Kolenda referenced the 130-yard length noted on the Missoula Country Club's standard score card.
But state investigators and local police determined the Missoula Country Club had indeed lengthened the hole for the tournament. Investigators said Kolenda ignored the witness statements and evidence provided by the tournament host.
Peissig had previously hit three hole-in-ones prior to stepping to the tee box on the 12th hole at the Missoula Country Club in August 2010. He had even nailed one on that exact hole.
The 30-year-old former golf teacher said there were "some ace rumblings" in his group before he hit the 7-iron shot — which landed a couple feet in front of the hole, checked up and rolled in.
"When I made that ace, I was stoked. I was pumped. That was really cool to have that happen," said Peissig. "Then it all went south."
The company failed to call the impartial judges to the shot for months, and then misrepresented their statements, Peissig said. The new father said the company even called him in early 2011 to say the money was on the way, only to send a rejection letter several months later.
"The money would be fantastic. My wife and I, we are a young family," said Peissig, who isn't counting on getting the money at this point. "At the same time, if there was a way for this hole-in-one company to not do this again to someone else, that would be just awesome."