It began nearly a quarter century ago as a way to pass time during spring slack season at a time of year when the tourists are not on tour and the locals are getting a little restless. It’s a basic yet brilliant concept: the bars and restaurants in town rally together and each creates a mini-golf hole to try and befuddle even the savviest golfer. Athletes congregate in teams of two and play a round of ultimate mini golf. Bonuses are awarded for various actions and everyone tries to make it all the way around town before the closing bell rings.
Costumes are taken seriously in Sun Valley and the KWO as it is affectionately known brings out the best of the best.
It’s no joke and if there was ever a winter of preparation to get ready for this event Sun Valley has got it. Spend hours upon hours at apres and you are the finely tuned machine who will come and represent.
With a high noon shotgun start the spiral starts to twist and competitors march off in the last straight line they will walk for the rest of the afternoon headed to a meeting with destiny. Lefty’s, Rico’s, Sawtooth Brewery…it’s all about strategy and timing. Who is serving shots? Save them for last. Bonus strokes come at a price.
The rules are few and you can only wonder what goes through the minds of unsuspecting motorists as they crawl through town with their heads on a swivel. What on earth is happening here? In a mash up of Mardi Gras, Burning Man, and the Master’s Putt-Putt the KWO is a spectacle. The tension in the air is palpable, the humidity elevated, only one will stand alone on the podium with the golden putter at the end of the day.
As the day continues to spiral and the strokes are being counted with somewhat suspicious honor-system-integrity the final plays are made, high fives exchanged and the throng moves into town square. With the talliers tallying and the revelers reveling the suspense is popped like a balloon and the golden putter is revealed for all to see.
Almost as quickly as it began it comes to an end. The final winner emerges from the back of the crowd and seizes the champion trophy.
Photos: Mark Oliver