Fun on a frozen fairway
Iavagnilio screamed. So did her teammates.
It was only their second hole of the Simonton Lake Ice Golf Tournament, but things were looking good.
Although Iavagnilio has been playing golf since she was 6, Saturday's outing was a little different than what she was used to.
Instead of fairways, there was ice. Instead of greens, there was ice. Instead of water hazards … well the hazard was there, but only if the temperatures warmed up and the ice began to melt.
“There's no sunscreen needed with this kind of golf,” said Iavagnilio, who along with seven other women were competing as team “After Shock” in the 18-hole competition.
The annual ice golf tournament — held literally on the frozen ice of Elkhart's Simonton Lake — brought 144 competitors to partake in semi-frozen afternoon of golfing.
Cam Snyder, owner of the Lakeshore Grill and organizer of the annual golf event, said proceeds go to the Simonton Lake Sportsmen's Club, which promotes conservation of the lake's resources.
Besides playing on ice — and dressing for the weather — golfers compensated for the unusual conditions by hitting tennis balls, instead of the harder-to-see golf balls, on links that ranged from 30 to 70 yards in length.
Adding to the competition — but not a requirement — was many of the golfer's seemingly firm belief that their games were enhanced by few beers or cocktails.
“It's really just a big social event, more than anything,” said Artie Mcelwee, who traveled the links in a four-wheel, two-seat, all-terrain vehicle. He also came prepared with an ample supply of beverages.
“Golfing in the snow, mixed with rum,” Mcelwee explained.
Although some golfers brought their own gas-powered golf carts out on the ice, others pulled their clubs and coolers on plastic sleds, homemade carts or children's wagons. It made the event seem more like a parade than an actual golf tournament.
Maria Pendley, who had golfed only two times “for real,” said it was hard to get used to hitting the bigger tennis ball along a surface that offered very little friction.
“It's very hard to make it go where you want it to,” Pendley said.
But for the majority of the golfers — who may have to wait months before a “real” golf opportunity is available — a day spent on the frozen links was exactly where they wanted to be.
Staff writer Dave Stephens: email@example.com 574-235-6209