Eagle Valley Reservoir had a lot of foot traffic last weekend, with the third annual Ice Hole Invitational. With little-to-no wind, and clear skies, more than two dozen participants signed up for the nine-hole golf tournament on ice. “It’s great to see everyone coming out to the park on a Saturday. It’s perfect weather, and a neat outdoor experience. It helps get the kids off their cell phones and computers,” said Ben Johnson, Spring Valley State Park supervisor.
With warmer than usual temperatures, Johnson surveyed the ice multiple times during the week leading up to the tournament. Reporting 11 inches of ice, he had monitored it from last Tuesday, when there was water seen above the ice. Last Thursday, Johnson said, was warm. However, waking up to -2 degrees Saturday morning ensured safety of the ice-holers. “We keep safety in mind,” said Johnson.
Although there were more golfers participating in last year’s tournament, this year, ice fishers were seen scattered over the frozen lake. “They’re catching tiger fish, and some rainbow trout, up to 13 inches,” said Johnson.
Dawn Andone, Park Interpreter for the state parks in Lincoln County, estimated about 50 percent of the ice fishers were local, the other half visiting. Many families were on the ice, and kids were seen having fun around the ice holes, sliding across the ice in chairs.
On the shore, many adults huddled around the campfire that was built while they waited for their friends or children to finish playing.
One couple from Las Vegas was visiting at the Eagle Valley Resort, and decided to see the golf-on-ice action. “We wish you had snow,” they said.
Some county families have made the Ice Hole Invitational a family tradition, such as Marisa and Dylan Phillips. Marisa graduated Lincoln County High School last year, and has gone to college at Southern Utah University. However, she made the trip home especially for the golf tournament.
Golfers signed up and took a scorecard for their group and headed out onto the ice. With no snow coverage this year, the ice was more difficult for staying upright. Luckily, Eagle Valley Resort owner John Crosthwait sent shoe grips for the participants to purchase, donating the proceeds for the event.
This year, the park offered billiards with bocci balls and croquet mallets. The ice was spray painted green, and logs formed the frame. Impressions were made in the ice to form the pockets. Shuffleboard was offered as well. From cut rounds in a tree, and fixed handles one of the sides, shufflers try to slide the oversized puck to the other end of a ring. Although no serious tournament or games were played, the crowd still worked their way over to it to “check it out.”
First off the ice was Mike Rennie from Pioche. Rennie has a tradition of competing every year in a viking hat with plastic horns. Afterwards, he helped Laura Johnson man the grill. They provided hot dogs and burgers, as well as chili, cocoa and cider, for the attendants and some of the ice fishers who caught a whiff of beef.
Prizes were awarded to the top three golfers, and the two highest scorers. Johnson prepared the crowd for the results, thanking them for coming out, and informing them, “you’re all official ice-holers.”
Marisa Phillips, who had won in previous years, took home the highest score with 59 strokes. The park crew congratulated her, saying that the highest number of strokes were half of what they were last year, after one very honest golfer turned in a score of 176, after a very tricky obstacle. Taking the second highest score was Marisa’s cousin, Amanda Lamb, who also returned home for the tournament. Her score was 58 strokes.
Two golf packages went to the first and second place winners, donated by Coyote Springs Golf Club and the Las Vegas Golf Club. For first place, there was a tie of 42 strokes by Kenny Trent and Tony Pratt. For third place, Tim LeMasters took home the win with 43 strokes.
Prizes were also awarded for the two highest scores, and many prizes were handed out to the participants. Next year, Johnson suggested, they might have an “ice queen” tournament during the event.