Underwriting provided by:
The Laura Moore Cunningham

Snowshoe Golf

McCall's snowshoe golf is a family-friendly event during the McCall Winter Carnival. All proceeds benefit the American Legion Post #119. J.J. Johnson started the event. Below is an edited transcript of our interview.

J.J. Johnson
J.J. Johnson, McCall Snowshoe Golf Course designer

Joan - How did this get started?
JJ - I got started when I first moved here. In 2001, local people asked if I could come help to do this .I ended up hitting tennis balls and they said okay. I've just kept my involvement for a long time in it. I'm the course designer and maintenance. If this were Caddy Shack I would be the Bill Murray character, Carl.

Robyn Grove and Jason Klure Golfing
Robyn Grove and Jason Klure golfing

Why snowshoe golf?
It fits. I'm one of those typical Idaho guys - I golf, I hunt I ski so I don't golf again until May - April or May up here. Being the winter carnival event a lot of my friends are the same way. We're not in Palm Springs all winter. Those people are and they are golfing 12 months so we're just doing something in the wintertime you don't normally do. Probably like we'd probably ski on the Fourth of July if they let us do it. Same logic.

How do you maintain the course?
We have to stomp these greens out. We have to rake them if we have fresh snow. Our biggest thing is the initial set up. We stomp it down with our snowshoes and basically just go day to day. We've had years we haven't had to do anything for 10 days so it goes clear and nice and stays cold. It's great.

McCall Snowshoe Golf Course
McCall Snowshoe Golf Course

How do you play snowshoe golf?
We are playing golf on a winter environment where you have to have snowshoes or you wouldn't be able to get around. We're playing with a tennis ball because obviously you would lose a golf ball if you hit it. So it's still golf. It's still hitting from a tee box to a green to a hole in the ground, and when the ball goes in the hole, that's your score. People do this and they have a lot of fun.

You don't have to play where the ball lands?
Because you can lose it. If I was to throw a tennis ball out here into this one foot of snow I may not find it so we don't have a lost ball penalty. Go to the nearest point, take another ball out and do it.

Snowshoe Golfing in McCall
Snowshoe golfing in McCall

And it's a fundraiser?
Yes. The American Legion has been involved a number of years now. If you follow the American Legion at all, you'll see they do a lot of good things in the community - scholarships, etcetera, and etcetera. So the bottom line is we have a winter carnival event that people like and have fun doing and the proceeds go to a local charity, local community. I think it's terrific.

We do a tournament every year that is supported by the local places that are selling libations. We have a travel trophy. The Yacht Club has won it two years in a row but we always have teams from Lardos and Beside the Mill and Forester's Club and the golf course restaurant. It's great. That's an annual event. The Yacht Club challenge they call it.

Watching the shot

Do you get more than bragging rights?
Yes. You get a trophy. We made this trophy. It's got snowshoes on it. So the club that wins gets the trophy and bragging rights.

Do you have fun doing this?
Yes, we're outdoors. We're doing neat stuff. I think everybody should do a little something for his or her community. This happens to be the little thing I do. I got involved almost by accident, but I've stayed involved. It's fun. I get a big kick out of it. A great friend of mine played in the tournament on Thursday, called me on Friday said, "Thank you. I'll never miss it again." We're doing something just a little bit different.