Conference Challenge: Sights and sounds

Behind-the-scenes at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, Saturday edition:

• Styx was hair – excuse me, here – last night in concert outside at the Riverside Casino. They did not mention Golfweek’s Conference Challenge, though one of the band members used a hockey stick to hit beach balls into the crowd. So I guess you can say Styx were swinging.

• The theme music for the week, however, is brought to you by Jimmy Buffett. If you stand near the putting green or driving range at Blue Top Ridge, you will hear a consistent yet extensive loop of Jimmy Buffett songs playing subtly in the background.

It this heaven? No, it’s Margaritaville. Said director of golf Bryan Haas, “You can’t go wrong with Jimmy Buffett.”

• How good has it been for the players out here? They have their own golf villa overlooking the 10th hole along with a 6-person golf shuttle to get back and forth from the Riverside Casino on the other side of the property (where they head to the casino buffet, not the blackjack tables like my colleague Lance Ringler). A representative from SeeMore putters was also on the practice green Saturday, allowing players to test a variety of models; each team also received six putters to take home.

• Players stumbled upon a huge pump running across the 5th fairway pumping water out of a lake into the nearby Iowa River. Heavy rains Wednesday and Thursday of last week soggied a few holes on the front nine and have caused a few spots of casual water. Last year, these same holes flooded when the Iowa River overflowed after excessive rain; the course is actually in the process of building new holes to replace the problems areas to avoid any such flooding issues in the future. They will turn the existing holes into some sort of executive or par-3 course.

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