Jay Copp 2017-03-09 23:55:46
Even in the snow, aim for the flag. GOOD WEATHER NOT REQUIRED— BUT JACKETS ARE In Minnesota winter is a long season. “You get cabin fever. You want to get out,” says Bradley Hensen of the Orono Lions Club. The club has the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums: the Snowball Open. The club staged its 30th Annual Snowball Open in January. Six hundred golfers played an 18-hole course created by Lions for the occasion on iced-over Long Lake. They plowed away snow to create fairway strips, tee boxes and greens. Woe to the golfer who hit an errant shot off the fairway. “That ends up in a snowbank. We call that the rough or sand trap. They have to use a wedge,” says Hansen. He’s usually too busy working the event to pick up a club and try his luck. But he knows the best way to golf on ice. “You use a 7-iron and pop it up. Let it roll,” he explains. Ice is even more treacherous than the 18th green at Pebble Beach. The par 5 holes are about 110 yards, and a par 3 hole is 50 to 70 yards. Golfers use their regular clubs but use tennis balls, not golf balls. The holes are not the standard 4. 5 inches but 12 inches, the size of the opening drilled by the auger. Lining the fairways—helping to give definition to a hole—are discarded Christmas trees. The club puts to good use the trees that until not too long ago decorated the living rooms of residents. This golfer has a customized golf bag. The weather sometimes has been awful. No matter. “You can’t say rain or shine. It’s snow and cold, but we still play,” says Hansen. This year the weather was a relatively balmy 25 degrees with a light wind. Staying on the fairway is key to a low score. The $25 entrance fee raises funds. But the club is savvy about generating additional revenue. Eighteen businesses were sponsors that set up tents or booths on the course. They served hot chocolate or chili. One sponsor took photos of golfers. Another set up blackjack tables. Part of the fun is watching others whacking the ball. The money raised supports Leader Dogs, diabetes screening and other causes. A raffle, which raised $6,000 this year, supports the club’s innovative RED (Read Every Day) program. Schoolchildren who read a predetermined number of hours get to choose new books for themselves. Sponsors make a round easier. Golfers, especially serious ones, try mightily to get a good score. But having fun is the primary objective. “Everyone is in warm boots, funny hats. It’s a good time,” says Hansen. Just as with regular golf, the great outdoors is a great reason to play 18.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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