Bo Pelini stood behind his golf ball on the tee box and stared down the 10th hole of Beatrice Country Club Friday afternoon.
Before addressing his ball, the Nebraska football coach turned to the people gathered and asked Paul Garnett, “Which house is yours?”
Garnett pointed out his house along the left side of the 10th fairway. With the wind being steady out of the south, Pelini was worried about hitting the house, but he didn’t need to be. He tanked his first shot right down the middle of the fairway.
Pelini assured everybody gathered that he wouldn’t be striking the ball that well all day.
“That will probably be my best shot of the day,” Pelini said. “That was luck because I hadn’t even hit a ball yet. I didn’t get a chance to warm-up, so that’s why I hit it straight. I’ll get worse as I go.”
Pelini, as well as many other Nebraska football coaches and former players were at Beatrice Country Club on Saturday for the Gridiron Golf Classic.
“We’re excited to be down here in Beatrice,” Pelini said after hitting his perfect tee shot. “This is what this event is all about – to mingle amongst all the fans, have some fun and lose some golf balls.”
Pelini joked that his score at the end of the day would be 15 or 16 under, but not under par.
“That’s how many balls I’m going to lose,” Pelini said laughing.
On Thursday night, a large crowd gathered at the Holiday Inn Express for the event banquet in which Pelini and several other coaches spoke. Also involved with the weekend’s activities was Dan Whitney, better known as comedian Larry the Cable Guy.
As Pelini strolled to his ball in the 10th fairway on Friday, Whitney was walking up the fairway on the third hole of the Beatrice Country Club.
With his trademark cutoff sleeves and camouflage hat, Whitney two-putted on the third green and then hit his tee-shot on the fourth hole into the weeds. He swung his club in frustration.
Despite the poor shot, Whitney said he was having a good time in Beatrice. He said he enjoyed entertaining everybody at the banquet on Thursday and said he ad-libbed a lot of it.
“I always enjoy doing that stuff and I had a good time,” Whitney said. “After being on stage 38,000 times, you get the hang of it. But it was fun and I enjoy these events and having it in Beatrice is really great, too, because it’s down here in my neck of the woods.”
Whitney grew up in Pawnee City and is big Husker football fan, but said he’s not bigger of a fan than anybody else.
“Coach (Pelini) owes me about $200, so you might not see me at anymore of these events until I start collecting,” Whitney said jokingly. “But I’m just an average fan like everybody else and I just happen to be a comedian that has done well. So I don’t consider myself anymore of an expert than anyone else because there’s a lot of big Nebraska fans in this state.”
Despite moving to Florida for a while, Whitney said he never left Nebraska. He drove around with Husker stickers on his truck, always knowing he’d come back someday. Whitney said the best part of doing these events with the Huskers is being around people he admires.
“As a kid living in a small town in Nebraska, we thought Nebraska football was awesome,” Whitney said. “It’s cool to be involved in this stuff and to play with some of the older players who I watched when I was younger in the 70s and 80s is fun. They even include me on the group texts that they send out about Husker football. It’s just a cool deal and I just love this state.”
Whitney said he tells jokes on the golf course, but it’s not to distract the other players he’s playing with.
“I tell jokes to take my mind off how crappy I am,” Whitney said. “I don’t even have to tell jokes, I just have to hit the ball and they laugh.”
Sitting behind the third green in a golf cart reading the bible Saturday afternoon was Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown. Brown said he’s not much of a golfer, but loves to come down to events like this and be around the rest of the guys.
“I don’t think anybody would want me to golf with them because I’m not a great golfer,” Brown said. “I like being out here, though. I like to be with the guys and it gives me the chance to do some push-ups and read the bible and enjoy this beautiful weather.”
Brown couldn’t be at the banquet Thursday night due to football camp, but said he’s glad he could come down to Beatrice on Friday.
“It’s great to get out across the state and be with the great people of Nebraska,” Brown said. “I’ve been coaching for 23 years and have lived here for 27 years and it feels like home. This is where we’ve been a long time and I feel a great deal of gratitude for the 1.7 million people in this state.”
Garnett, one of the local organizers of the event said the weekend has been fantastic.
“Last night we packed the house and probably oversold it a little bit,” Garnett said. “And I saw so many people laughing so hard that they had tears in their eyes. It was just incredibly funny and high energy.”
Garnett said he feels like Pelini and Whitney, as well as the rest of the coaches and players, had a great time in Beatrice.
“Bo is at a time of the year where he can relax and he’s been wanting to play Beatrice Country Club, so I think he’s loving it,” Garnett said. “And I’m not sure Larry the Cable Guy ever goes anywhere where he doesn’t have a good time. I wish I had Larry the Cable Guy’s lifestyle.”
Garnett said he wasn’t too worried about Pelini hitting his house on the 10th hole Friday afternoon.
“With that wind, I thought maybe he could do it,” Garnett said. “But he hit a pretty good shot.”