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A golf tournament like no other: 5 holes, one club and a bunch of Twin Cities back yards

Posted by: Michael Rand under Golf Updated: July 15, 2011 - 12:20 PM

The British Open is one thing. The McPhee Challenge? Well, that's quite another. What is the latter, you ask? Well, until we received a very nice e-mail and invitation from a woman named Bev the other day, we had no idea. But it turns out it's a 5-hole, one-club annual golf tournament ... and it's played through some sprawling back yards in Apple Valley. At a certain point, it turns into somewhat of a rolling party. This is the 16th year of the tournament and we were invited, possibly because Bev found out we shot a 94 on a reasonably challenging metro course the other day but more likely because we work in the media, to play on Saturday. We have a prior engagement, so we can't make it. But we like the concept enough to showcase it a bit as a preview, with words and pictures provided by Bev:

This will be our 16th year hosting a back yard golf event (played w/ a whiffle ball and 7 iron) in which we get approximately 80 friends/neighbors/golf enthusiasts to come out for some good food/drinks/music on a summer evening. I have continued this tradition of a back yard golf tournament from the days when my father, Ron Kirby (Golf Course Designer with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus) would host a similar event in our front yard in Lilburn, Ga. He called it the “Little John Classic” (We lived on Little John Drive), as the party grew in popularity they moved it to Chateau Élan Golf Club in North Atlanta and called it the North Georgia Open.

My husband John and I began having this tournament in our back yard in 1996 and we call it the “McPhee Challenge”. We give prizes for closest to the pin, and longest drive, but the coveted prize is a navy blue jacket w/our McPhee Challenge Champion crest on it! This jacket goes to the individual Ladies and Men’s champion. These jackets (bought at goodwill) go home with the winners, only to return and be presented to the next year’s winners!

I am an Event Planner by trade, and this event is my baby! I plan for it all year! Our next door neighbors own the Big 10 restaurant down at the U, and they help sponsor the tournament with beer and wings! People typically bring an appetizer or dessert to share, but we provide the beautifully groomed course (thanks to TORO, which is where my husband works as a marketing director), plenty of booze, and a DJ. We have a big water hazard (our pool) in which we have a floating green should there be a playoff.

Here is how it works. We let our back yard (as well as our neighbors on either side of us) grow for a couple of weeks, then John mows out a 5 hole course. You play with 1 club (typically a 7 iron) and a whiffle ball. Your drive on each hole HAS to land in the fairway, or you take a 1 stroke penalty. If the weather cooperates, the event is a great evening! We tell people they can come after 3PM to get in a practice round, but beginning at 5PM, all scores count! By 9PM the party is really going strong and the DJ is playing and people are dancing around the pool.

We will spare everyone -- including those involved -- the pictures of the pool dancing. Suffice to say, this sounds like a grand event. Your thoughts on the McPhee Challenge and any similar events you've created, as usual, in the comments.



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