The event started as a dream, but this week, it became a reality, a reality we couldn’t have imagined. PGA REACH Nebraska’s inaugural Birdie Bonanza raised nearly $100,000 for Nebraska PGA’s Foundation, with $15,000 being given back to the Omaha Fire & Rescue Department.

PGA REACH Nebraska’s Foundation has positively impacted thousands of lives since its inception in 2013 through golf programs. PGA HOPE is a 6-week program that provides military veterans with free golf experiences taught by PGA Professionals. Clubs FORE Youth puts new golf clubs in the hands of high school girls. Golf ‘N Schools teaches young scholars the game during their Physical Education periods. PGA Jr. League is a fun, social, and inclusive opportunity for boys and girls ages 17 & under to enjoy the game of golf. Omaha Outreach builds a passion and love for the game in diverse groups of young scholars. PGA REACH Nebraska also supports other organizations and individuals with a similar mission through grants and scholarships. PGA REACH Nebraska will impact over 30,000 kids and veterans annually through the game of golf.

The Omaha Fire & Rescue Department (OFD) uses 96% of their annual budget to support wages and compensation leaving little funds to purchase equipment which was a big reason PGA REACH Nebraska decided to partner with them for this event. It was even more special being the event was played on 9/11/2023 on a day when Americans across the country remember the fallen back in 2001 while honoring the first responders who put their lives on the line to save many more. The $15,000 raised for the OFD will go a long way to provide them with the new life-saving equipment they need for citizens in Omaha.

16 two-person teams of Nebraska PGA Professionals competed in a golf marathon at Benson Golf Course, where the goal was to make as many birdies as possible throughout 54 holes in one day. Leading up to the event, PGA Professionals were supported by people in their community, friends, and family through donations that were given in the form of pledges for various amounts of money per birdie. Leading the highest per birdie pledge was Nick Muller, PGA of the Country Club of Lincoln and Al Peterson III, PGA of The Field Club of Omaha, with an impressive $551 per birdie. Six other teams came into the event with each birdie being worth more than $100 setting up for an exciting day.

With the flat donations included, after just the first 18 holes, the field raised over $53,000, setting the pace for a record-setting day for PGA REACH Nebraska. By the end of the 54-hole golf marathon, the NEPGA Professionals made 525 birdies and raised $98,202. The money will go a long way in positively impacting lives across Nebraska with PGA REACH Nebraska’s programming touching every corner of the state.

In addition to raising an amazing amount of money, the NEPGA Professionals were competing for a chance to be in the Birdie Bonanza Shootout and be crowned champions. Represented in the shootout were the top two teams who raised the most money and the top two teams who made the most birdies during the first 54 holes. The format was an alternate shot format, eliminating one team every hole until a champion was determined.

Al Peterson III of The Field Club of Omaha and Nick Muller of the Country Club of Lincoln raised a field best $21,340, while David Honnens, PGA of the Nebraska Section PGA and Nathan Kalin, PGA of Fremont Golf Club raised an impressive $12,800. With those two duos making their way into the shootout, it left two spots to be filled. Justin Herron, PGA and Alex Janssen, PGA of Oak Hills Country Club made a field best 45 birdies, while Chris Cover, PGA and Chad Manes, PGA of Happy Hollow Club made 38 birdies to punch their tickets into the shootout.

The highlight of the shootout came on the second hole (No. 8) where Al Peterson III made a long birdie from roughly 30 feet to send him and Muller into the final hole, where they would eventually be crowned champions. Not only did the duo bring in the most money in the field, but they became the inaugural champions of PGA REACH Nebraska’s Birdie Bonanza and claimed the WWE style belt.

“We had such a great time playing for a great cause and to see the turnout and support the community has for our Nebraska PGA Professionals, it’s truly amazing”, says Peterson.

“As excited as I am to win the shootout, I’m even more excited to come back next year and raise even more money for this great cause”, says Muller.

The Birdie Bonanza Champions received $2,000 to give to the charity of their choice. Muller and Peterson have selected Mourning Hope out of Lincoln, NE. The Mourning Hope Grief Center companions children, adults and families before and after a death loss. Mourning Hope provides grief support groups, counseling, community education, resources and referrals.

In addition to the money raised, the birdies made and an exciting shootout, it turned out to be a perfect day with great weather and great camaraderie between the NEPGA Professionals. We want to thank Dave James, PGA of Meadowlark Hills GC and Ed Wiltgen of Buffalo Ridge GC for coming out and showing off their competitive BBQ skills by providing food for the field of players all day long.

We would also like to thank Host Professional Joe Wiegand, PGA, his staff and all of the PGA HOPE Veterans who volunteered their time to help make this event amazing. Thank our supporting sponsor, The Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Local 385. Lastly,  thank you to all the donors who supported the 32 Nebraska PGA Professionals.


2023 Birdie Bonanza Recap Video