Bement School eighth grader Sebastian Garro relishing the rewards as 1st person to sink Crumpin-Fox Club Full Court Putt at UMass basketball game

Bement School eighth grader Sebastian Garro (second from left) receives a check from UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford during halftime of the school’s men’s basketball game against St. Joseph’s on Tuesday night at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

Bement School eighth grader Sebastian Garro (second from left) receives a check from UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford during halftime of the school’s men’s basketball game against St. Joseph’s on Tuesday night at the Mullins Center in Amherst. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 01-24-2024 5:41 PM

Modified: 01-25-2024 2:01 PM


Sebastian Garro has been playing golf since he was 5 years old. 

He never could have imagined when all that practice would pay off. 

Garro — an eighth grader at Bement School in Deerfield — attended the UMass men’s basketball game against South Florida last month at the Mullins Center in Amherst. Since the 2016-17 season, the Crumpin-Fox Club and Sandri Energy have sponsored a full-court golf putting contest as part of the school’s halftime entertainment. The contest is simple – one fan is selected to attempt a full court putt into a small hole at the bottom of a piece of signage. The reward for accomplishing such a difficult feat? That would be a $10,000 prize.

As you’d imagine, it’s nearly impossible to make the putt. For starters, the shot measures in at a cool 94 feet. That’s difficult enough on the greens of a golf course, but it’s even tougher on hardwood, where the surface is smoother and faster. 

UMass had played 108 home games since the inception of the full-court putt contest. Most of the attempts never even made it to the board, or drifted so far away they were heading toward Route 9. No participant had successfully made the shot.

That was until Garro won the raffle and was selected for the contest on Dec. 2. 

“I put my name in a raffle and I didn’t know what it was for,” Garro said. “I just hoped that I won. I got picked to go on the court at halftime and I was very confused. I had just thought that I won a raffle and they were going to give me some prize. When I got to the court they told me I was going to do this putt. If I made it they’d give me $10,000 and if I hit the board, I’d get a hat.” 

Garro — an avid golfer who has been playing at Crumpin-Fox since he was five and is a member of the Bement golf team — strode to the second ‘T’ in the Massachusetts name painted along the baseline and struck the neon golf ball. His roll had some pace to it from the start and looked like it had a chance. The ball wasn’t moving wildly one way or another, but 94 feet is a long way. 

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“I just went up there and tried to hit the board,” Garro said. “As soon as I got there I thought ‘this isn’t too hard.’ I just had to aim it right toward the hole and hopefully it would go in. I lined it up and put the right pace on it. I’ve been practicing putting since I was five years old. My instincts came in. I knew it would be faster than grass and once I remembered that, I was able to get the right pace on it.” 

The ball made it to the opposite baseline and cracked the board just inches from the hole. The ball bounced off the board, had some spin on it, rotated back and went right into the hole, making Garro the first successful participant of the contest and $10,000 richer. 

“It just plopped right in,” Garro said. “It felt great but I had no idea what had just happened. I was completely out of it and in shock. I felt like I was dead but was still seeing stuff. I still can’t believe I made it. I know I did make it but it still doesn’t seem real.” 

Garro’s entourage — his mom, dad and a few friends from school — were also in shock. He was handed the golf ball he made the putt with and kept the tickets he had from the game as a souvenir. 

“It was an awesome time,” Garro said. “My mom was recording on her phone and she dropped her phone instantly. My dad was also recording on his phone and he fell backward after.” 

On Tuesday, Garro returned to the Mullins Center for UMass’ game against St. Joseph’s and was presented with the $10,000 check at halftime.

What does an eighth grader do with that chunk of money? Garro said he will be smart with his cash, though will be making one purchase that shouldn’t surprise anyone. 

“I’m just so thrilled, so happy and so thankful to have had the opportunity to make the putt,” Garro said. “I’m just so happy. I plan on saving the money up and investing it. The only purchase I’ll make with it will be a new set of golf clubs that I can use at Crumpin-Fox.”