Joel Dahmen had no idea what he was getting himself into. Not only had the University of Washington product never made his way to Austin, Texas, but the self-proclaimed journeyman – who captured his first PGA Tour title in March at the Corales Puntacana Championship – knew nothing about Butler Pitch and Putt, the city’s famed downtown golf locale.
So when representatives for Tito’s Handmade Vodka approached Dahmen about playing in the first Shorties Classic Pitch and Putt Match at Butler, he assumed this would be a fun little charity event. A new adventure. A few laughs.
“It blew me out of the water,” Dahmen said of the famous short course that sits near Auditorium Shores. “The location. The course. The people. The way the thing is right in the middle of the city. It was so much fun. That is such a great place to have something like this. More areas need a place like that.”
Dahmen wouldn’t let on to who won the event, which was taped in November. It debuts at 6 p.m. Wednesday on national TV on Golf Channel (it will re-air at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday and 9 a.m. Jan. 12) and serves as the official kickoff to Tito’s multi-year deal with the PGA Tour. Dahmen was one of four Tour players invited to take part, along with Harry Higgs, Harold Varner III and Pat Perez.
So what is this, exactly? Think a mini-version of “The Match” on a par-3 course, but with a wilder bunch.
And cocktails flowing.
Social media sensation Manolo Vega and former LPGA player Belen Mozo handled the broadcast duties while each of the players competed for a charity of their choice, with a total pot of $350,000 up for grabs. In Dahmen’s case, he played for The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and as a cancer survivor himself, the opportunity to give back to the group made this an extra special event.
Dahmen is known as one of the Tour’s characters, and his wit shines through in Wednesday’s broadcast, according to Taylor Berry, the VP of brand marketing for Tito’s who helped coordinate the outing.
“Joel was the dark horse for me,” Berry said. “I had no idea what to expect and didn’t realize how funny he is. He was so perfect for this. They all had something different they brought to it.”
The game is in a traditional Wolf format – each hole is worth varying points dependent on the “Wolf’s” decision to call “Lone” before teeing off (3 points), call “Lone” after everyone else tees off (2 points) or choose a partner to play that hole with (1 point). The success of the event – it sold out in hours after tickets went on sale – might lead to future installments. Berry said he wasn’t sure if another similar tournament will be held, but if it is, he’d prefer it to be at Butler.
When asked how he played, Dahmen laughed and said, “below par.” But he insisted he loved Austin as a whole and said he can see why the city is enjoying an influx of new residents.
“Oh, it’s definitely one of the places I could see us moving,” he said, adding that his wife, Lona — a noted food blogger — warmed to the region quickly. “We got into town and the next morning I hopped on a scooter and headed out to breakfast.”
As for Dahmen’s play, he’s off to a good start, making the weekend in all five of his PGA Tour starts this season before the holiday break. By virtue of his win, he’s been soaking up Hawaiian life this week as part of the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Maui, hiking and sampling island fare.
And although he admits the victory in the Dominican Republic was a substantial moment, he said it wasn’t life-changing.
“Career-changing? Sure. Life-changing? No,” Dahmen said. “For guys like myself, who wait a long time for that, it’s almost a letdown after the fact. You let down for weeks, maybe even months after. And then you try to really enjoy it. My wife always says to me for the next one, ‘Can the party last a little shorter?’ ”