Pelican Lakes Resort & Golf has never met anyone like Barry O’Neill.
The 24-year-old golf course in Windsor, CO has hosted its men’s club championship every year since 2000, and during that time no member has finished the two-day event under par.
That’s until Barry introduced himself to the club. The native of Waterford, Ireland has broken the par barrier twice now.
Barry has taken Pelican Lakes by storm since joining two years ago as he’s won back-to-back men’s club championships. Last weekend he destroyed the tournament record, which he established with a 140 (4-under) in 2022, when he shot 13-under (65-66 - 131) to win the 11-person championship flight by 15 strokes over runner-up Brett Krantz.
Brett, an accredited junior and collegiate golfer from Windsor, turned in a two-day score of 146 (75-71), which would have won or tied nine of the last 14 club champion events. Just to put Brett’s impressive finish in perspective.
Barry’s golf game is on another level right now. Members have mentioned that his club impact on the golf ball “just sounds different than everyone else’s.”
Pelican Lakes has hosted hundreds, if not thousands, of accredited golfers in its history, but no other member has achieved individual stroke play success quite like Barry.
Prior to Barry’s arrival to our 27-hole gem in Northern Colorado, the lowest documented men’s club championship score relative to par was Jeff Slupe’s even par (71-73) finish in 2010. (The club is missing results from the 2000-02, 05-07 and 2009 events. If anyone knows where that archival floppy disk is located, please notify the pro shop.)
Onlookers of Barry’s 2023 victory were amazed at the ways he was able to navigate a very difficult golf course. Through 36 holes, Barry carded only two bogeys (#16 on Saturday and #10 on Sunday) and tossed in 11 birdies and two eagles (both on Sunday).
“Overall, I was anxious until the very last hole so keeping a good swing tempo and slowing everything down really helped,” said Barry. He also mentioned he was more nervous this year because the expectations from his fellow members were that he should dominate this event for the next decade.
From the black tees, Pelican Lakes is measured at 7,264 yards. While tee boxes were moved around during the weekend, the course played to around that number for the champ flight. The first cut of rough is dense and long, making finding the fairway the most important task for the 95 men and women who participated.
Barry identified the need to find fairways by only hitting two drivers on Saturday (#14 & #15) and just one on Sunday (#15). “Hitting 3 wood off the tee to stay out of the rough as much as possible helped a lot,” Barry said. “My goal was to aim small and miss small on every shot.”
The greens were rolling at nearly 13 on the stimpmeter, which placed a important emphasis on pace of putts.
“With the greens so fast, I really tried to focus on good speed,” Barry said.
Barry’s historic achievement was saluted when he tapped in for par on Sunday and was immediately sprayed with champagne from several fellow members. His two-day showing will forever live in Pelican Lakes lore.
And while most of this blog is dedicated to the amazing achievement by Mr. O’Neill, several other members shined over the weekend.
Ellie Butler won her second women’s club championship, first was in 2020, with scores of 75-75 – 150 (6-over) to better runner-up Elisabeth Gordon by 28 strokes.
Ellie was in command all weekend. She grabbed a 9-shot lead after the first day with a 75 that included an eagle 3 on 15. Then on Sunday she remained steady despite finishing the last two holes two over.
Ellie’s 6-over par score is the fourth lowest in tournament history. The women’s club record was established in 2010 when Karen Gallagher finished at 5-under.
Meanwhile, in the Senior Men’s Championship flight, Dave Deering set a record for lowest two-day total with a 10-over 154 (72-82). The Senior flight was established in 2016, and the previous low round record came in 2020 when Scott “Ya Ya” Gaines shot a 155.
“Disco” Dave cruised by the rest of the 15-person field with a 28-stroke advantage over runner-up Brent Hofmeister. Playing from the white tee boxes, Disco had five birdies on the first day with four of them occurring in a five-hole stretch on the back nine (#12, #14-16).
An 18-stroke cushion going into the second day allowed Disco to safely make his way around the course with a final round 82.
Scott Scheirman won the first flight with scores of 75-80 (155), Nik Wunsch won the second flight with 84-78 – 162, Scott McWhorter won the third flight with an 84-84 – 168, Russ Smart captured the fourth flight with rounds of 84-85 – 169 and Kevin Wilcox won the fifth flight with a 93-90 – 103.
Congratulations to all of the Pelican Lakes champions and thank you for your commitment to our club!
Top Five Lowest Men’s Club Championship Scores In Pelican Lakes History
2023: Barry O’Neill – 13-under | 2022: Barry O’Neill – 4-under | 2013: Jeff Slupe – Even par | 2010: Jeff Slupe – Even par | 2020: Sam Chapman – 1-over & 2004: Mike Stertz – 1-over
Top Five Lowest Women’s Club Championship Scores In Pelican Lakes History
2010: Karen Gallagher – 5-under | 2021: Jessica Zapf – 1-under | 2022: Kinsey Smith – 1-over | 2023: Ellie Butler – 6-over | 2019: Jessica Zapf – 7-over
Top Five Lowest Senior Club Championship Scores In Pelican Lakes History
2023: Dave Deering – 10-over | 2020: Scott Gaines – 11-over | 2022: Scott Gaines – 18-over | 2018: Steve Kannenberg – 18-over | 2016: Paul Andre – 22-over & 2015: Dwain Gaalema 22-over