Barstool Open

Cindy Knapp, of Thurston, Neb., participates in the Barstool Open at the Firehouse Bar in Sioux City in 2010. The event returns Saturday. 

Journal file photo by Jim Lee

SIOUX CITY -- Every year, the Barstool Open roving trophy can be counted on to be stolen.

"There is pretty heavy competition between the bars to make the best hole and win that traveling trophy," said Phil Claeys, event coordinator. "Unfortunately, somebody steals it every year and I have to make a new one anyway."

Kicking off Historic Preservation Week for the fourth time, the pub crawl-style event will raise funds to preserve the history of Siouxland as well as for River-Cade. Nine Historic Fourth Street bars will set up mini-golf holes for teams of four to attempt to putt their way through.

But it's not just fun for the golfers -- bar owners also tend to get competitive when it comes to making the most creative hole. Using every sort of material imaginable, the businesses try to come up with complicated holes and challenges. Not only does the bar deemed to have the best hole win bragging rights and the ability to hold the next year's after party, it also gets a trophy (which is sure to later mysteriously disappear).

Although participants must be at least 21 years old, drinking is not required for participation.

"We don't require people drink at all," said Neighborhood Services Supervisor Paul Barnes, who is helping put on the event. "This is simply a great way to kick off the Historical Preservation Week. It's a wonderful way to promote the historical downtown district."

But for those who do want to drink, steadiness is key. The aptly named Will Putt Fore Beer was last year's first place team. Capt. Jamey LaFleur offered his own advice on how to balance winning while imbibing. As last year was his team of five's third year entering, the guys came up with a strategy that paid off in the end.

"We found out the hard way the first year you have to space out the drinking," LaFleur said. "Our strategy now is, one person from our group will buy a drink at a place and we just rotate. However, if we have to wait a while at a bar, than we all get drinks."

Having a lefty who rotates in when the hole calls for it also helps.

"For any holes that required a more left hand approach last year, our guy would go first and then it made it easier for the rest of us to know how to attack it," La Fleur explained.

Although LaFleur admitted he thought his team would win again this year, it's more about the experience than it is winning. According to Claeys, the amount of enthusiasm for this year's event already is tremendous.

"I had a 70-year-old call me the other day wondering if he could participate or if the event was aimed at the college-aged folks," Claeys said. "Of course, I told him it was open for all, because it absolutely is. It's a varied group who come out for this -- drinkers and non."

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