A downtown Jacksonville fundraising tradition marks a major anniversary next month, with the proceeds going to the same group as the first event.
The Downtown Jacksonville Bar 2 Bar Golf Classic will celebrate its 20th year on Saturday, February 11th. The event is actually the 21st occurrence as the first year it was an extension of the Barstool Classic event in Springfield.
Original organizer and event promoter, Randy Springer says that after he didn’t receive any help from the outside group, that was when Tony Gaudio and Micky Marks suggested making it a stand-alone event for Jacksonville.
“Otherwise this thing probably never would have made it twenty years. They stepped in and helped me with it. Roger Baker who actually owned the bowling alley at the time, he’s the one that named it. Most of the benefactors have been children-oriented [groups] so like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boys and Girls Club, and so forth.
A few years ago, I gave it over to Mickey down at Gaudio’s, and I think since then he’s now passed the torch over to Brian Watts from Golden Eagle.”
The event held every year in February takes participants through a min-golf-style course through nine different downtown establishments. All of the proceeds from each year’s event goes to a different local non-profit organization.
The event runs from noon to six pm with the day of registration beginning at 11:00. Brian Watts from Golden Eagle Distributing says over the course of the twenty years, the number of teams has noticeably dropped, however, he says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“In the early years we used to have roughly 180 to 200 teams, and some teams wouldn’t get done because it was so backlogged, so it was a long day. Now, these days we average around 80 to 100 teams, so you can get done in the time frame whenever you want to. You can be done by 3:00 or 4:00, it’s a lot more of an enjoyable day out. It’s doable.”
Watts says the only expense from the event is the t-shirts that each participant receives, otherwise, all of the proceeds go to that year’s non-profit, which even with the smaller amount of teams, still provides a tidy donation for one day’s work.
This year, the proceeds will benefit a non-profit organization fresh off celebrating twenty years as well, and who was also the benefactor for the first official Bar 2 Bar, Jacksonville Main Street.
Executive Director Judy Tighe says the Bar 2 Bar Golf Classic is a favorite downtown event. She says the end result of the proceeds from that first event are actually still seen and enjoyed to this day.
“It’s a great fundraiser, it’s a lot of fun. It has raised money for Jacksonville Main Street and then we used those proceeds to do some great things. In fact with the earlier one, we put those proceeds into a savings account and we used that money to help create the first Wall Dog Murals.”
Springer turned over running the event several years ago, however, he still hosts a hole at Fortunes Gaming and Goodtime Doc’s on South Main Street. He says he still enjoys making the circuit each year to see the new and inventive mini-golf holes each business put together for the new year.
The Bar 2 Bar Golf Classic registration forms can be found at any one of the nine participating establishments. A four-person team costs $100.00, the same registration fee the event charged its first year.
The deadline to register and receive t-shirts on the day of the event is January 30th. Teams can register up to and including the day of, but will then receive their shirts at a later date.