The Brown County Business Outing golf tournament is still going strong after 14 years.

In fact, the tournament — started by a group of local businessmen — is bigger than ever with 33 teams participating in the event Friday, June 7 at the Hiawatha Country Club.

Tom Simmer, who organizes the event with his son Heath — both of Maximum Insurance — said the tournament started as an idea 14 years ago by himself and Tim Boyer, another local businessman.

“Our idea was to create an event that gave Brown County businesses the chance to say thank you to their customers and clients,” Tom Simmer said. “We first did it also as a fundraiser to help renovate the pool at the Country Club. Once that project was completed, we focused on getting better prizes.”

Over the years, thousands of dollars have been raised for this event — close to $35,000 for just this year alone, he said.

Local businesses can sign up for a team and invite their clients to participate. A $500 fee for a 4-member team includes a full day of golfing that kicked off at 10 a.m., lunch, a prime rib dinner that evening and a chance to win a variety of prizes that not only include a golf cart, but items such as televisions, golf equipment, cash prizes and more. It’s been the last four years that they had raised enough money to give away a golf cart each year — the winners have been Kent Schnakenberg, Tad Rankin, David Jackson and Michael Fangman.

Tom and Heath work for several months collecting sponsorships from local businesses for those prizes for the drawings and leading up to the event — which is always the first Friday of June. There are also prizes for closest to pin, longest drive and longest putt.

“The business community has been so supportive of this event,” he said. “We cannot say thanks enough.”

In addition, funds raised from sponsorships go toward three scholarships for Hiawatha High School graduating seniors. The criteria for those scholarships includes the student must be a member of the Hiawatha Country Club. This year’s winners were Hunter Pavlish, Trevor Pederson and Caden Lillie.

Three businesses sponsored Hole In One prizes and they were Hiawatha Implement, Maximum Insurance and Morrill Elevator. Hiawatha Implement also sponsored a prize of a new lawn tractor.

He said three people were selected from a drawing to try for a hole-in-one. Virginia Freese, Kyle Olson and Cody Askren gave it their best 165-yard shot for a hole in one to win $1 million sponsored by the Brown County Business Outing, but unfortunately fell short.

Simmer said there were a total of 132 golfers on the 9-hole golf course at the Hiawatha Country Club and they finished up about 5:30 p.m. and then came inside for the dinner, cooked by Ron and Lisa Keller, and prizes.

“That’s a lot of golfers, but we make it work,” Simmer said. “This is a good event that helps out our Country Club, keeps it going and brings in new membership and a way for our local businesses to say thanks.”

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