ELKHART — It’s not exactly golf season out there, but 120 people grabbed their clubs this weekend and headed out into the cold, snowy weather anyway, but instead of teeing off at their favorite golf courses, they went to Simonton Lake.
For the first time in two years, the weather was cold enough for an ice golf tournament at the lake. The frozen lake north of Elkhart near the Michigan state line transformed into a 13-hole golf course Saturday, Feb. 1.
Event organizer Cam Snyder and his team created the course by drilling holes into the ice and using recycled Christmas trees to landscape the “greens.” The project took about five days to complete, he said.
“It’s a riot,” golfer Jim Vance added. “I’m a friend of Cam’s, and we started doing this and it just grew, and it’s been a success.”
The last time an ice golf tournament was held at the lake was 2011. The past two winters have been unusually warm, but last weekend, when this year’s tournament was initially scheduled, was too cold.
“We had that polar vortex freeze,” said Snyder, who owns The Flippin Cow restaurant on the lake. “It’s 30 degrees out right now, which is almost 60 degrees warmer than it was a week ago with the wind chill.”
Bundled up in puffy coats, hats, scarves and gloves, the golfers didn’t seem to mind the cold weather.
“It has been a bummer the last two years not being able to play,” said Karen Stephan, who lives along the lake. “I look forward to it every year.”
Felix Ambris and a group of his golfing buddies from Union, Mich., took to the ice for a friendly competition.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a good chance to get together with the guys and just golf.”
It addition to having a good time, the golfers helped raise money for charity, Snyder said.
“We give back to the lake association, the Simonton Lake Sportsman’s Club, and they have a little environmental project going on, so this raises money for them, and we’re able to have fun at the same time,” he said.