BILLINGS — St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday steeped in tradition and while basketball dominates headlines in March. There’s a tourney in Billings that tees off the Saturday before St. Patty’s Day that gets more popular by the year.
March isn’t always the ideal time to get outside and hit the links in Montana. But during the annual St. Patty's Pub Golf Classic, the Back 9 becomes the start of an indoor golf tournament that draws golfers of all skill levels.
And it's one that golf lover and five-time participant in the classic, Paul Keneally never misses.
"St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays and when we found this five years ago, we decided this was going to be our St. Patrick’s Day tradition from now on," said Keneally on Saturday.
It's an all-day event that see participants visit eight different bars around Billings. Teams are made up of five players, one of which is a designated driver as they stop at the eight participating bars around Billings. And the top three teams, as well as the best team costumes, receive prizes.
And Keneally has seen his fair share of success since his debut.
"We actually did win it the first year we did it. And every year since we’ve been pretty close or at least in the top five," Keneally added.
Keneally is an avid golfer who said, "probably my passion in life is golf."
So, naturally it's an event he looks forward to each year. And it's one that The Den and Back 9 owner Terra Pierce, is happy to host each year as well.
"We’ve been doing it here at the Den for probably 11 or 12 years. We’ve always been the starting point, and we’re just super excited that now we have the Back 9 and it’s kind of become the perfect fit for all the golfers. They get to come here in the morning, they get to experience the virtual golf in the Back 9 and then we send them on their way to the next stop," said Pierce.
This year saw 29 teams compete for a top three spot. And as Keneally and his team attempted to capture another top finish, he mentioned that the competition is always tough.
"Whoever gets a hot putter can really ruin your day if you’re trying to go for the win. So, anybody can, I think, win this thing. That’s what makes it fun because anyone has a chance to win it," added Keneally.
But regardless of the outcome, he's just happy to be golfing in March.
"It’s a good time to get out with our friends and spend the day out having some fun when the weather’s not so nice most of the time," Keneally said.