Chili Open Golf Classic back after three-year absence

CRYSTAL LAKE – The golf season in Crystal Lake is about to start a little early.

After three consecutive years of cancellations, the Doc Haznow Chili Open Golf Classic will return to Main Beach on Saturday for golfers willing to test their games in cold and icy conditions.

The recent arctic blast was a needed change of fortune for the once annual event that had been plagued by warm temperatures, causing the lake to be only partially frozen if at all since it was last held in 2010. But recent subzero temperatures have made frozen Crystal Lake a prime spot for the makeshift nine-hole, par-32 course.

Joe Davison, recreation supervisor for Crystal Lake Park District, said it was exciting to see conditions set up for the event to take place after all the cancellations.

Interest is still high as 30 foursomes have already registered.

“It’s been great to see all the excitement again. It has become really huge,” Davison said. “We’ve already plowed all the holes and the ice conditions have been great.”

In the competition, foursomes tee off from mats and try to land shots on the greens, which are made with artificial turf. Holes are drilled in the ice for cups. Christmas trees are used to mark the fairways and greens.

The traditional mode of golf course transportation also is replaced as carts are swapped for home-designed sleds. Participants can enter sleds in a contest for prizes. Previous entries have been elaborate, including one sled bearing a 20-pound grill and a keg of beer.

Participants do not need golf experience to play. Organizers suggest players bring a few short irons, a pitching wedge and a putter.

All foursomes will receive one bowl of chili and the chance to win several prizes, including golf bags, golf clubs, golf apparel and gift cards. All golfers will receive painted golf balls and the opportunity to play in side games.

Registration for the event costs $115 for a foursome regardless of residency. Those interested can register at www.crystallakeparks.org or by calling 815-459-0680. Tee times start at 8 a.m. Saturday and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Foursomes can register until 5 p.m. Friday.

If you go

What: 2014 Chili Open Golf Classic

When: 8 a.m. Saturday

Where: Crystal Lake Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Drive in Crystal Lake

Cost: $115 for a foursome

Details: Golfers can play on a makeshift nine-hole golf course on frozen Crystal Lake.

No experience is necessary and every participant will receive a free bowl of chili, painted golf ball and opportunities to win prizes.

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