O’Donnell & Friends Open

This was the 20th year for the O’Donnell family to host their annual golf outing at our course.  Their golf outing is cleverly called O’Donnell and Friends Open.  What started out as a small family gathering has turned into a huge charity drive every year.  The O’Donnells consist of Dan & Dee O’Donnell, their 10 children, spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  It’s definitely a family affair.  The day before their golf outing, the family came out to place a memorial bench in Dan O’Donnell, Sr.’s honor.  Dan had passed away from a long battle with cancer last November.  This would be their first time running the golf outing without him.

It was a picture perfect morning.

IMG_7305The day always begins with a flood of activity.

IMG_7370The family meets up at the golf course at 5:30 a.m.  Bringing along a truck and trailer filled with all their loot!

IMG_7367Everyone sets to work.  Here they are assembling this year’s sponsor sign.

IMG_7295They have hundreds of sponsors who help to make their event successful.  Every year a new charity is selected.  This year’s charity was the Hospice of Central Iowa.  It is where Dan spent his final days and the family was so thankful for all that was done for them.

IMG_7332Every family member has a job.  Their system is a well oiled machine and each person knows exactly what to do.

One person places the pin prizes.

IMG_7342Another person sets up the silent auction items on the holes.  Auction items are throughout the course under tents with the item up for auction on display.  As you can see, several of the family members work for the Des Moines Police department, so they get to use the DMPS golf car.   We don’t kid around on this day when we say there is a marshal on the course.


More people take all of the sponsor signs out on the course.

IMG_7360They are a woodworking family, so they have created a display case that shows the 20 year history of the their tournament.  It started as a family reunion.  The following year, they raised money for the Lincoln High School cheerleading squad.  They raised $1,500.  Most importantly, they were bitten by the fundraising bug!

IMG_7298Every year, they have us line up the carts in numerical order.

IMG_7307They do this because they have a youth organization that brings the bags of the golfers to their respective carts.  The selected youth organization receives donated money for their assistance with the morning bag duties.  This year, they had the Valley cheerleading squad as helpers.

IMG_7313The girls put the name of the golfer on the bag and then carry the heavy bag to the carts.  It’s easier for the girls when they know the carts are in numerical order.  It’s always fun to watch because I think sometimes the guys feel sorry for those poor girls who carry sometimes very heavy bags.  They usually pitch in the help!

IMG_7318This year, they had personalized flags at each hole which they later auctioned off.  They were commemorating their 20th year as well as the memory of Dan O’Donnell, Sr.

IMG_7346They also have flags that greet the golfers at the driveway as well as the practice green.

IMG_7303Of course, the inside of the clubhouse is getting prepped, too.  Donuts and coffee!

IMG_7308You can’t forget hole 9 1/2.  It’s at the putting green where golfers participate in a contest.

IMG_7352Everything is set up by 7 a.m. because that’s when golfers begin to arrive and the whole golf course comes to life.

IMG_7371They are greeted and thanked by the family.  Old friends and new friends come together.  Excited for this special day of the year.  It’s like a golfer’s Christmas morning.


Jim O’Donnell greets a golfer.

Like clockwork, everyone is ready at their designated 8 a.m. start time.  Jim always takes the microphone to greet the golfers.  He explains how they are to “tell” on each other as there are awards for non-golfer behavior.

IMG_7376In the past, Dan O’Donnell, Sr. had made these awards.  This year, his son, Dennis O’Donnell picked up his father’s mantel and created the coveted awards.  Like the Creative Score Keeping Award.

IMG_7408They also have the take up another sport award and trophies for all of the pin prizes.

IMG_7414Let’s not forget the trick shot award as well as the water shot.  The tales of your golf and round are told to the entire audience before you get to receive your award.

IMG_7421Bringing up the end of the pack are golfers who get the O’Reary Award.

IMG_7407First place winners cannot win two years in a row, however, first place receive trophies, too.  In fact, this year the foursome that won it, also won it last year.  Jim simply said, “Good score, but we’re going to award the team that came in second.”

IMG_7404Once Jim is done talking, I usually take over.  As promised, however, this was a new year.  Without Dan there to help, the oldest grandkids got their turn at the microphone.  Here is Mike O’Donnell who is the oldest grandson of Dan and Dee and Dennis’ son.


Followed up by, Mindy O’Donnell who is the oldest granddaughter of Dan and Dee as well as Jim’s oldest daughter.

IMG_7378It was a beautiful day. Great golfing and fun was had by all.  Golfers receive door prizes at the end of the tournament.  Their names are on stickers that are then placed on their respective prizes.

IMG_7428At the end of the day, they were able to raise $91,260 for the Hospice of Iowa/Kavanagh House here in Des Moines.  What an accomplishment to an amazing family!  Over the twenty years, they have been able to donate almost $800,000 for local charities.

How about you?  Does your family put together a charity drive?  Ever play in the O’Donnell Open?  It is held every year on the last Friday of June.

Post by Allison

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