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Issue Date: December 2010

It’s Called A Snow Wedge...

Rick Voigt , aka "Mr. Chili Open," a 22-year veteran of the Rotary Club of Strongsville and seven-year chairman of the Rotary Club's Chili Open Golf Classic.

What does golf have to do with chili? "Chilly" is the temperature.

As you're walking out on the golf course, bundled up with a thick jacket, heavy boots, hat, gloves, you're sitting there thinking, What am I doing? I'm out here with golf clubs. This is not right.

Everything you've learned about golf does not apply. When you get up there to swing, your ball could have some ice or snow on it. Even when hit well, it goes in whatever direction it wants.

We give everyone orange golf balls because when your ball lands in the snow, there's actually a little hole where it goes in, burrowing underneath, so you may not even see it. Later in the day, golfers have trampled all the snow down, so finding your ball isn't as bad.

It's the funniest, craziest looking thing. It's colder than hell out there, snowing like crazy, and people are out there playing golf. Sometimes you think up the craziest events, and people go to them, and they're successful. That's what this is: a crazy, fun event. It's not even close to real golf.

You would destroy a regular golf course. We convert the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds parking lot into two nine-hole courses. One thing you can do to hone your skills is take your "snow" wedge and play in the sand trap until the snow falls. The "S" on the wedge means it's a snow wedge in the wintertime. Bring your putter, your snow wedge, a club that's going to take you between 65 and 85 yards (the distance from the tees to the holes) and a club that'll hit a ball 175 yards for the hole-in-one contest.

You always want to have snow out there — it's part of the ambience. So the best temperature is 30 degrees and sunny. We've had weather in the 50s, where people actually liked playing golf out there, and we've had weather where it's like a blizzard, and as soon as you hit your ball, you lose it because it's snowing sideways.

— as told to Amber Matheson

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