Minnesota Ice Golf – Teeing Off for a Cause
This past week, I sat down to interview my brother-in-law, Jason DeMars, to learn about the unique Minnesota sport of ice golf. Ice golf is another great way to experience the ice on one of Minnesota’s frozen lakes. Here in southern Minnesota, it has also turned into a way for people to give to a great cause in effort to help out a fellow Minnesota neighbor in need.
When did you first play ice golf?
“I started to play ice golf back in 1993. A friend of mine had a family cabin up north on Long Lake near Lake Mille Lacs. I went with a group of guy friends (about fifteen of us) on a weekend. We would set the course up on Saturday, draw teams, throw twenty bucks into a pot, and then golf. We then would go out to eat and drink and the winning team would give their winnings to the bar to pay our drinking and dining bill.”
When did it change into a fundraising event?
“Eventually, my friend’s parents sold the cabin, and instead, we stayed at a resort and did our ice golfing. I thought, however, about all the money we were spending to drive up north, to stay in the resort, and to eat and drink. I thought, why not give this money for a more important local cause. So, the next year we stayed local and it just so happened that there was a need. My wife, Maggie, decided to walk the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Three Day Walk in the Twin Cities, so we raised money for breast cancer research.”
What other local charities have benefited from the Charity Ice Golf Event?
“This will be our tenth year holding the Charity Ice Golf Event. Last year the event benefited Rice County Habitat for Humanity in honor of Bill Sartor. In the past, we’ve also raised money for a family with a handicapped child who needed a lift for their van. We raised money for several families who were battling childhood cancer or had a parent with cancer. One year we raised money for a scholarship program to help pay for shoes for kids to run Cross Country at Faribault High School. Finally, a friend of mine lost a baby, so we raised money for Infants Remembered in Silence.”
How many volunteers does it take to put on the Charity Ice Golf Event and what do your volunteers do?
“Volunteers are always needed for our event. We can’t set up the course until the morning of the event because so many snowmobilers ride on Roberd’s Lake. We don’t want anyone to get hurt running into the holes or equipment. It takes 15 to 20 volunteers to set up the course and help with some of the holes during the golfing. Usually, a group of people will contact us when they know of a local family or charity that has a need. That group of people will often want to have a silent auction, raffle, or other activity. We coordinate with them to make the event special for the family we are trying to help. Volunteers are needed for those activities as well. Around forty volunteers and many local businesses come together to make the Charity Ice Golf Event a success.”
What makes ice golf different from regular golf, besides being played on the ice?
“Ice golf is played with a tennis ball instead of a golf ball and a single golf club. The course is designed in such a way that you don’t have to be a good golfer in order to have the best score at the end of the day. Half of the holes are played the traditional way. You hit your ball with a club and then try to putt it into a hole. The other half of the holes are “fun” holes that you need sheer luck to get a good score in, or they consist of a game that will either increase or decrease your overall score. For example, one year we had bowling pins on the ice at one of the holes. You had to push your partner on a saucer sled towards the pins. The number of pins that you knocked down equaled the amount of points you could take off your score. The fun holes are meant to even the playing field so really good golfers can’t just win the event. At the end of the day, the player with the best score wins a one of a kind, highly coveted trophy that I make myself.”
What is the theme for this year and who are you helping?
“This year the Charity Ice Golf Event will benefit Bill Sietsema and his family. Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer this past year and his hashtag is #Billstrong, so we decided to go with a costume superhero theme. We will also have a trophy for best costume. It’s just a fun way to make the event unique to the person or charity that we help.”
What happens if it’s a warm winter? Have you ever had to cancel the event?
“Last year actually, it was really warm and there was standing water on the ice, so we decided to move the event to two parking lots that are right next to the lake. It worked out really well even with us onshore. Instead of golfing we switched all the holes to campground themed games, like beanbag toss. I don’t think we would ever have to cancel the event.”
Here’s the Details of the 2017 Charity Ice Golf Event
- Date: February 25, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- Location: Winjum’s Shady Acres Restaurant and Resort.
- This year’s event will benefit the Bill Sietsema family. Dress up as your favorite superhero to honor the strength and power it takes to fight cancer.
- Cost $25.00 per golfer.
- 9 Hole Course – Best Ball. Tee times are at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm
- Items to bring: One golf club, a tennis ball or 2, and beverage of your choice for on the course.
- If you have questions on registering or would like to volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Registration is online at:
Many businesses provide in-kind support/sponsorship for the Charity Ice Golf Event. Much thanks to:
Thanks to all the volunteers who help run the event! Also, much thanks to the individuals, families, and many other businesses who donate to the silent auction every year. We are blessed to have so many generous and giving people in our community!
More Minnesota Ice Golf Events
If you want to check out or try your hand at ice golfing, check out these ice golf events across the state of Minnesota.
- White Bear Lake BEAR’ly Open– Golf on Ice on White Bear Lake, Saturday, February 4
- Tundra Golf on Clear Lake at the Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival, Saturday, February 4
- Wayzata Chilly Open Frozen Golf Tournament on Lake Minnetonka, February 10-11
- Gull Lake Frozen Fore Winter Weekend, Brainerd, February 24-26
- Golf on Ice at Big Sandy Lodge and Resort, McGregor, Saturday, March 4
- Ice Golf at Bayview Bar and Grill on Lake Mille Lacs in Onamia, March 4
- Phil’s Golf on Ice at Phill’s Myr Mar Marina on Lake Mille Lacs, Aitkin, March 4
Pin for later.