PROVO, Utah (ABC4) — The Utah Open week kicked off today at Riverside Country Club with one of the favorite events — the Special Olympics Short Game Challenge.

In this game, celebrities are paired with special Olympic athletes for a 9-hole chipping and putting contest.

First Lady Abby Cox was there, along with local sports writers and a couple of tv sportscasters.
It is a lot of fun for everyone and a highlight of the week.

Devin Dehlin, the executive director of the Utah Section PGA, which sponsors this event, says it never gets old watching the smiles on the faces of the kids when they make a putt.

“The course is a lot the same every year, but the smiles and everything, everyone is having so much fun. And so see it grow, it’s been over 30 years that we’ve been helping the Special Olympics, and to see how excited the athletes are, and all the celebrities, it’s fun. This is a big competition, so a lot of fun.”

Shelley Mooney, one of the athletes competing on Monday, agrees.

“It’s a really fun. We get to see other athletes and from other teams and other celebrities.”

Jay Drew, a sportswriter for the Deseret News, had been a participant for the last 10 years.

“It’s just great,” he said. “It’s one of the highlights of the year, just to see the joy that golf brings to these Special Olympians when they make a putt, or even when we make a putt, it’s just a blast. I just love it.”

Paul Pugmire of Utah Golf Radio agrees. “Even when they don’t make a putt, there’s still a smile on their face, because it’s golf. They’re rolling the ball, they’re hitting it with a club, and that’s just plain fun. It’s just a joy,” he said.