Ten inches of snow and 17-degree weather may seem like sledding weather,but this weekend folks in downtown Des Moines will suit up in their best Bermuda shorts and head inside for a little golf.
The 19th annual indoor Skywalk Open Golf Tournament – organizers claim it's the world's largest indoor golf event – will host some 2,000 golfers of every skill level putting away the winter blues.
“There are avid golfers,and there are people that don't even own a putter,” said Kelly Foss,director of special events for Downtown Community Alliance,a non-profit that is the event's sponsor.
Corporate sponsors assemble themed putting holes along the 3.5 miles of enclosed pedestrian bridges that connect downtown businesses at the second-floor level. This year, 54 sponsors have created three 18-hole courses.
Golfers can golf solo or in groups of up to four.
Paulette Taylor has been golfing this tourney since 1989. Each year she rents a full-size bus and invites 40 of her closest friends to join her in her favorite winter golf tournament.
“It breaks the winter blues and cabin fever for,primarily,adults,” said Taylor,who added that the bus driver doubles as the group's designated driver. “I will never not participate as long as I live in Des Moines.”
Taylor,who organizes eight to 12 summer outdoor golf tournaments a year,has one specific Skywalk Open frozen in her memory.
“One year it was negative 26 degrees outside,not the wind chill,but the actual temperature was negative 26 degrees,” Taylor said. “The pipes in the skywalk actually burst.”
But the life-long Des Moines resident doesn't let a little chilly weather break her tournament tradition.
“I wear shorts every year,even that one,” she said.
The golfers aren't the only ones having fun. Aureus Finance and Accounting decided that corporate headhunting could be inspirational as well as vocational.
“Our focal point is a Tiki-hut that my daughter and I put together,” said Frances Ali,staffing supervisor at Aureus. “We did it really authentic.”
The display includes an indoor jungle complete with life-sized stuffed giraffes,orangutans and tigers. Ali and her daughter will dress up as safari guides to help golfers with the challenging hole.
But golfers shouldn't fret,she said. Like many miniature golf courses,there's a secret. “If you can get the ball in the hut exactly straight,there's a track to the hole,” Ali said.
Downtown Des Moines,where 39 inches of snow have fallen since Dec. 1,may not seem like the ideal spot for a winter golf tournament,but long-time participant Taylor disagrees.
“Do it once,and you'll be hooked,” she said.