Portales resident nails “moneyball” putt

When Damon Baca hit the best golf shot of his life, his first thought was, “Oh (shoot), it’s short.”
But it wasn’t. Baca, a Colorado native and recently retired master sergeant from Cannon Air Force Base, picked up $5,000 for dropping the 50-footer.
A Portales resident playing in the Greg Skarda Memorial Tournament in April, Baca’s name was drawn for an opportunity to take the shot.
He’s been the talk of the Colonial Park Country Club since sinking it, but he’s about to find a new golf course to make memories. The family is moving to Bend, Ore., in June.

When did you first take up golf, and what kept you in? Whenever I joined the military, probably a year or two after I joined. So 1996, 1997. It was a challenge, and I like things that are challenging. It was something I was not good at, and I wanted to become good at it.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson Damon Baca of Portales stands from the flag where he sunk a 50-foot putt for $5,000 at the Greg Skarda Memorial Golf Tournament.

Staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Damon Baca of Portales stands from the flag where he sunk a 50-foot putt for $5,000 at the Greg Skarda Memorial Golf Tournament.

We have a pretty good idea of your best golf story. What’s your worst? There are a couple. I got hit by two golf balls, and I almost got struck by lightning.
I was golfing with some Marines, and a guy tees up the ball. It hits the cart, blasts me in the mouth. Two weeks later, I’m telling the story to a buddy of mine while we’re at a par 3 waiting for our turn. Not even seconds after I tell him, a ball hits me in the arm.
The last, we were calling it because it was raining. We were turning in our cards, going back in our cart, and probably (20 feet away) lightning struck a tree. The bark from the tree hit us; it was that close.

When you heard there was a $5,000 putt, what did you think? I threw all three of my (raffle) tickets in there. But I’ve never won anything on a raffle, and I figured my chances were best there. From the start, I thought it was something out of my range, out of my category. I can’t hit a 2-foot putt. Whenever I hit the putt, I thought I hit it straight but hit it short.

When you become $5,000 richer in a matter of seconds, what’s the first thing you think to purchase, ridiculous or otherwise? Right now, it’s perfect. I just retired from the military and we’re moving up to Oregon. That’s a huge help to us to move.

What is the reason for going to Bend? My wife (Salena) pretty much Googled it. We knew we wanted to move to the northwest, and my wife Googled places in Oregon and Bend kept popping up.

— by staff writer Kevin Wilson