The Columbus Dispatch
Close to 100 people sipped frothing beers that quickly disappeared on the hot day. Most of them sat in the shade of a massive tent filled with cooling fans, televisions and a full-service bar.
Down a steep slope from the loungers, Daniel Chopra had just hit his tee shot into a bunker in front of the green at the par-3 No. 13 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
The people didn't like that.
"Come on," one spectator sighed from the safety of the shade. "We need a birdie."
Groans turned to cheers when Chopra's chip shot out of the sand rolled perfectly into the cup. He made the birdie.
"All right! Way to go Daniel!" a voice yelled from the crowd. Spectators left their seats and headed to the bar for $1 beers. The timer on the wall counted down from 13 minutes.
That is the scene that overlooks the hole during the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational, where a golfer's birdie means fans drink half-price beer for 13 minutes on the tournament's "party hole."
It's a spectacle that fans and golfers can enjoy.
"It's one of the drivers that brought (me) here, that excitement," Worthington resident Joe Gans said.
Golfer Jeff Gove: "I think it's great for the sport. I made a birdie there (Thursday), and they all cheered. It was awesome."
Gove wasn't the only golfer all for it.
"I love it, every week out (on tour) I think should have one hole like that," Dublin native and Nationwide Tour golfer Kyle Reifers said.
The idea for the hole's theme came after the tournament's first year as a way to attract more fans. After hearing other tournaments were trying similar promotions, the party hole set up shop on 13 in 2008.
The party started as a modest tent. With its popularity, additions have been made each year. The tent has expanded from selling beer out of the back of a truck to a patio-like structure. Then came misting fans to cool down the patrons and a Wii gaming console with the latest edition of Tiger Woods' PGA Tour video game.
"With this tour, you don't have a lot of name recognition so we needed a way to get fans really excited," McBride said. "We want to engage people on the whole back nine. You can even see onto No. 18 (from the tent)."
Hole 13 is a 221-yard downhill slope that crosses a small stream before running into three oblong green-hugging bunkers. Birdies haven't been rare here through three days of play - a total of 70 - and the hole has played easier this week than most others, to the delight of golfers and drinkers.
For Chopra, his birdie on 13 even got him out of a funk during the second day of play.
"I hadn't made a birdie all day until that hole, so I was a little overaggressive with my tee shot that landed in the bunker," he said. "When I birdied, they were so happy up on the hill. Not as happy as I was, though."
The hole's following has continued to grow each year with more thirsty fans congregating there into the weekend. Gil Rinehart of Grove City was a first-timer yesterday for both the tournament and the hole's festivities.
"It's everything that's advertised," Rinehart said. "We got here around 10 a.m., we parked and we came right over (to No. 13) and we'll probably be here all day. I may still be sitting here tomorrow."