2024 Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament
When you think about a golf tournament, what comes to mind? It’s probably not windswept plains of snow surrounding a frozen lake. In North Park, we do things a little bit differently in the wintertime and the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament is about par for the course. No, it’s not the lush greens and sandtraps of a PGA tournament, this tournament is played in the dead of winter on a frozen reservoir at 8,000 feet above sea level. But what is it? Where can you find it? And more importantly, how do you sign up to play? Let’s get into it!
What is the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament?
Over twenty-two years ago, business owner and local contractor Ron Sessions wanted to help out his community. Like many great ideas, Sessions and a few friends came up with the idea for a fund raiser in a bar. Combined with the availability of the Walden Reservoir (along with his access to heavy equipment to clear the ice), the first Tournament was born. After his passing the local chapter of the Lions Club continued the event in Ron's name. Since then, it has become one of the biggest draws to the area—second only to the Never Summer Rodeo in June.
Ron passed away a number of years ago, but what began as a fundraiser for the local Lions Club has become a lasting legacy to give back to the North Park community. Proceeds from the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament go to a scholarship fund for local high school students and other charitable work provided by the Lions Club, such as eye care for the elderly and visually impaired.
The Ice Golf Tournament has become the North Park Lions Club’s main fundraiser, and has drawn so much interest from locals and visitors that hotels fill up quickly during weekend when it is held. Past events have raised an average of $7,000 for charity and scholarships for the North Park community. Concessions are supported by the North Park High School FFA.
How is Ice Golf Played?
The Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament is played very similarly to golf, with the exception of the ball—which is a tennis ball. Regulation golf clubs are used to tee off towards a “green” of plowed snow on the ice surrounding a 6” hole in the ice.
Teams of three compete against each other on an 18 hole course that has been plowed and groomed for the event (at one-third the distance of a regulation hole) by Sessions and Sons. The ice is anywhere between 16-18” thick, so there is no danger for golfers of falling through.
The first year began with 14 teams of three. Over the years the event has grown, with a few years ago reaching an all-time high of 82 golfers playing 40 holes across Walden Reservoir. Players mark their scores, enjoy their favorite golf course beverages, and play through all day long on the last Saturday in January.
Participants should dress for the weather and be prepared for a ridiculous day of fun on the ice with friends. Winning scores are comparable to golf games you might be familiar with. Scores from 50-70 are common.
Cash Prizes and Prestige
The winning team of the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament gets a $500 prize. Other teams placing in the tournament get a cash prize as well, with a total of $1500 and prizes being distributed among those who place in the top seven teams. Players can also place their bets in a Calcutta where they can bet on another team to win for a prize of $500.
Entry Fees to Play in the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament
Here’s what you need to know to get started.
- Player entry fees are $150 per team of three players.
- Calcutta bets are separate.
- Parking is free and plentiful at the event.
- Entry for spectators is free, but donations are ecouraged and appreciated.
- Concessions are also separate and go to supporting the North Park FFA.
- The Tournament is played on the ice at Walden Reservoir about a mile west of Walden, CO.
- For more info, check out the listing on our Calendar of Events.
After Tournament Celebrations
A post-tournament bonfire is held at the end of the day, with the party moving back to town for an awards ceremony banquet at the River Rock Cafe in Walden, CO. Winners of the Calcutta are announced as well and the celebrations often continue well into the night at the River Rock, Stockman Bar and Grill, and other places people gather in Walden, CO.
The Best Hotels and Places to Stay in Walden, CO
With the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament being the second-largest draw to North Park so far (find out more about Vintage Snowmobile Racing), lodging fills up quickly.
Book your lodging in a hotel, VRBO, or AirBnB vacation rental property in Walden, CO. Choose from a wide selection of vacation rentals, ranging from quaint to unique, and anywhere between single occupancy or large groups of visitors. Rooms will sell out fast, so book your accommodations now!
Places to Eat and Drink in Walden and North Park, CO
Once you come in from the cold, you’ll want to warm yourself from the inside out with a hearty meal or places to get coffee in Walden, CO. Check out some of our local restaurants, bars, and other accomodations during your visit.*
- River Rock in Walden, CO : A sit down restaurant with hot drinks, food, and adult beverages for after a long day on the links.
- Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant in Gould, CO: Serving up a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the season, the Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant is a must-see place on your way in or out of North Park on HWY 14.
- Rand Yacht Club in Rand, CO: At the south end of North Park on HWY 125 in Rand, CO, you’ll find the historic Rand Yacht Club. Call (303) 909-2719 for hours of operation and to see what specials are on the menu.
- The 10th Frame in Walden, CO: Take a break from ice golf and enjoy a burger, hot sandwiches, or any number of daily specials. A local favorite! Call (970) 723-8616. Open Tues-Saturday.
- The Stockman Bar and Grill in Walden, CO: A local bar and grill featuring an original antique bar from the frontier days, local character, and plenty of good times. Call (970) 723-8499 for more information.
- Four Winds Pizza in Walden, CO: Pizza, ice cream, and antiques. Call (970) 723-8668 for current seasonal hours.
*Winter Hours are Subject to Change, especially depending on weather.
Come Up to North Park for the Fun!
North Park is your out of the way, off the beaten path destination for fun in the wintertime without fighting the hassle and traffic of resort towns. Come check out the Ron Sessions Memorial Ice Golf Tournament this year, as well as many other events taking place this winter in Walden, CO, Gould, and the rest of North Park! We’ll see you there!