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The 11th annual Barstool Open provides a day of booze and putt-putt

May 2, 2019 GMT

2019 marks the 11th year of the annual mini-golf and boozy debauchery-filled pub-crawl known to people in Sioux City as the Barstool Open.

Started 11 years ago by father-son duo, Phyl and Jesse Claeys, this fun event has attracted an increasing number of people over the years. I mean, who doesn’t like getting sloshed and playing a bit of putt-putt?

The Weekender visited Phyl Claeys at his Rock Street domicile to talk about the event he co-created.

“Eleven years ago Jesse and I were sitting at this same table in this same room and we were trying to come up with fundraising events,” said Claeys. “We thought of a mini-golf pub-crawl and we figured it would be pretty fun to do. I went ahead and started planning it for River-Cade. Then somebody from the Sioux City Historical Preservation Commission came to me and asked if I had any ideas for a fundraising event. I decided to have both River-Cade and the Historical Preservation Commission be the beneficiaries of this event.

“I got 10 bars involved the first year and this year we will have 18 mini-golf holes at 18 different bars downtown. The amount of teams participating has grown from 64 during the first year to 102 last year.”

Wait, did we forget to mention a costume competition? Yes. If your team shows up in the coolest themed costumes and you are deemed the best costumed team, you will win a prize. In the past, the costumes have been elaborate and well-planned, and this year will be no different.

“There are some people that dress in knickers and classic golf-wear from the ’30s and ‘40s,” said Claeys. “Others get a little wilder…I deemed one guy the Long D--- Silver of the event…he was very proud of his ‘putter.’ Some teams do a cheerleader team, some come as flappers. You don’t have to come in costumes, but when you do, it gives the event a nice creative tint.”

This event isn’t just fun for the participants, it is also a blast for the owners and employees at the participating bars.

“The first year we did it, it was coming down to an hour before the event and we didn’t have a hole yet,” said Crash! Boom! Bang! Whiskey Hole’s Rick Swanson. “We put a cup in front of the stage and put a ball on the stage…all you had to do was go onstage and drop the ball in. There were around 300 people who came in. The next year we had a kick drum, a snare drum and cymbals set up, so you had to go through a maze to get to the hole.”

Last year was The Marquee’s first time participating and owners Kelly Quinn and Mitch Martin got creative with their hole.

“We actually got a picture of Mitch’s head and blew it up,” Quinn said. “Essentially you were hitting the ball into Mitch’s mouth. We were laughing just putting it together.”

But how did Martin enjoy watching all of those balls enter his blown-up mouth?

“I don’t want to say gratifying, but I guess it’s an honor,” he said with a laugh. “Last year’s event was a month after my surprise birthday party and we had a bunch of giant pictures of my head that we didn’t know what to do with and we wanted to incorporate them into the hole…so we just cut out the mouth of one of them.”

According to Work and Church’s Coressa (Tiny) Bowman, some people can get a little rowdy after playing a few holes.

“Please don’t stand on the pool table while you take a shot,” said Bowman. “It’s amazing…it’s always a good time here. We don’t try to make the hole that difficult. With an easier hole, more people can go through and participate at our bar, then get to the next hole. We can’t have it backed up. We do offer drink specials from noon to 6:30 p.m.”

Some bartenders are more concerned with the quality of the beverages being served that day, such as John Chaussee and Katie Meyer of The Diving Elk.

“Founder’s Breakfast Stout is rad,” said Chaussee. “Every year they release their barrel aged breakfast stout, and it is during the time of the Barstool Open and the Kentucky Derby. The first year we had it, we had one keg and it was drained in two hours and 15 minutes.”

“We’ll have mint juleps and the breakfast stout going that day during and after the Barstool Open,” said Meyer.

“As for the hole, it is like a golf ski-ball,” said Chaussee.

“We’ve had that for a couple years now, but it’s just a fun way to do it,” said Meyer.