DECATUR — After seven years or so with the same putting hole at Doherty’s Pub and Pins, the owners decided to construct a more elaborate, decorative hole for this year’s barstool open.
They had a challenging hole constructed which fits the bar’s Irish theme, with numerous obstacles such as green glasses of beer on the fairway, leprechauns on swings after the first turn and pots of gold near the final stretch.
After many golfers walked away from the hole with a disappointing four or more Saturday morning, Donny Skelton, a 31-year-old graphic designer, confidently strode to the tee box and swung for the fences.
His ball hit all the right spots on the curved metal rails and went straight into the metal cup, sparking the loudest cheering of the day.
“I must have got lucky,” said Skelton, of Clinton, as he sipped his free beer, compliments of the house for his achievement.
Skelton was among 2,180 golfers who marched or rode buses from bar to bar to bar Saturday to participate in the annual United Cerebral Palsy/Miller Lite Barstool Open, held for the 12th time in Decatur.
The participants competed as foursomes, but Skelton’s group, called Cocktails and Dreams, comprised three foursomes.
There were seven different courses this year, with each course composed of seven or eight holes. The downtown course normally fills up quickly.
The Cocktails and Dreams group has been playing the downtown course for the past six of seven years.
“Donny always signs us up the first minute of registration,” said Melanie Schelling, who plays on Cocktails group, along with her husband, Al.
Schelling, a Decatur insurance agent, said she shot a hole-in-one at Doherty’s a couple of years ago.
“I think Doherty’s is lucky for our team,” she said.
Melanie Schelling said she has a special reason for taking part in the event. She has a sister who has cerebral palsy.
“When we were growing up, UCP did a lot for our family,” she said. “It’s a wonderful event. It raises a lot of money.
Jenny Dawson, local United Cerebral Palsy director, said Saturday’s putting event will add about $88,000 to the charity’s coffers. That is a whopping 22 percent increase from last year’s $72,000.
“It is the biggest barstool open in the country,” Dawson said. “We have people coming back every year, and we’re getting new players, too. It definitely is getting bigger every year.”
Dawson attributes the success of the event to the hard work of about six people, who plan the event during eight months each year, as well as about 160 volunteers who donate their labor.