Cold, snow par for the course at 55th Eskimo Open

LEMONT, Ill. - They're not crazy. They're just golf nuts.

Although, the families of the 60-plus participants at the 55th Eskimo Open may beg to differ.

"They think we need to be committed and put in a funny farm," laughed Ken Scales during his second run through the Cog Hill classic.

It's also tournament number two for Scales' partner, Ron Laurent. So what are his thoughts the second time around?

"My thoughts are I'm insane," joked Laurent. "No. It's invigorating. It's something I enjoy very much."

Freezing temperatures, blustering winds and very little green to speak of, but year after year guys like Ron and Ken keep coming back.

"I think it's the chili, believe it or not," smiled Frank Jemsek, owner of Cog Hill Golf and Country Club. "We've had that long bad stretch of weather - they call it cabin fever - haven't seen it on the golf course lately. People just want to get out."

And out they've come since 1963 - 37 strong in the inaugural open with as many as 400 when the weather is nice.

But, even in frigid, snowy conditions droves of diehards hit the links the first Sunday of January year in and year out.

"It's actually fun. It's a good time," Scales noted. "If you think about skiing or anything outdoors, it's better than just staying inside. Just put on plenty of clothes and go for it."

"Let's have some fun. Let's do something different and be with your friends," remarked Jemsek. "Most people play golf to be with their friends. There might be a single out there playing, but it's very unlikely. Golfers play mostly for their friends. The golf course is secondary."

$49 covers your green fee, the aforementioned chili and a hot drink.

If you're considering taking part in next year's festivities, there are a few tips to maintaining your sanity while keeping warm.

"Definitely a colored-ball. Orange is the best color we've found, or at least I've found," explained Scales. "And then also the hammer. Without a hammer, a nail or a screwdriver forget about it. You're not going to be able to put a tee in the ground."