Beauty vs. The Beast: Paige Spiranac and Jerry Kelly Go Low to Raise Big Dollars for Charity at Geneva National

Not many have witnessed a sub-60 round of golf… ever. In fact, there have only been 12 in the history of the PGA Tour.

On Monday, June 5 at Geneva National Resort & Club thousands of spectators were treated to some of the best ball-striking and short games ever witnessed as the game’s top celebrity, Paige Spiranac, and PGA Champions Tour icon [and Wisconsin’s own] Jerry Kelly served up magic to the throngs, pouring in 16 total birdies and two eagles over an 18-hole exhibition round dubbed “Beauty vs. The Beast.”

There would be no beast, though – only heroes, as the club was informed late the night before that John Daly – originally slated to take on Paige in this highly anticipated matchup – would not show due to persistent knee pain and sciatica. Geneva National leadership was sent into an all-out scramble to save the day for thousands of fans who’d bought tickets to a buzz-worthy Monday event that had been in the works for the better part of a year.

As several golf media members and I played poker in the late hours of Sunday night inside The Ridge Lake Geneva’s Biergarten, Paloma Resort Properties Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of the GN resort, Glen Murray, worked every possible angle.

There aren’t many golfers who can take the place of the legendary John Daly, but they found the right one to commit to the next morning just before 11:00 that night: Wisconsin’s own Jerry Kelly.

Kelly, returning to Madison following a seven-under final round that tied him for second with Steve Stricker earlier in the day at the Principal Charity Classic at Wakonda in Des Moines, Iowa, called taking Daly’s spot an “Easy yes.”

Introduced before the round, he regaled the massive crowd on the first tee with the first time he’d taken Daly’s place, at the very onset of his professional career. When Daly withdrew from a PGA event, Kelly was invited to take his spot in what would be the beginning of his professional career. Warming up on the putting green a player nearby was talking about how disappointed he was that he was supposed to play with John Daly, but he’d “Suddenly been paired with Jerry Kelly. Who’s Jerry F’ing Kelly?” (JFK)

“I went up to him, shook his hand and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jerry F’ing Kelly!'”

What was initially billed as a head-to-head competitive match between Daly and Spiranac was transitioned into a charitable rally where each birdie carded by Paige and JFK would add another $2,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Heart of a Lion.

And they’re off… following opening tee shots on one

Kelly’s stories and demeanor endeared him to the crowds all day long. He and Paige, who could not have been sweeter to the fans, entertained between shots, invited lucky kids and spectators to attempt their putts on most holes and tee shots on several par threes (one of the reasons Jerry’s 59 is not an official course record as they were given some pretty good reads!), had wonderful, lively banter and genuinely enjoyed the day. And so did the fans. As Kelly chipped in from 40+ yards on the seventh for yet another birdie, the crowd roared.

Jerry Kelly teeing off on the reachable par four 5th

And Paige was never bested.

As written about in this month’s Golf Digest article “How Paige Spiranac Took a Life She Never Wanted and Turned it into Golf’s Largest Social Media Empire,” she’s not just Maxim’s Sexiest Woman on the Planet. She was one of the top-ranked female amateurs in the world before giving up competitive golf partially on account of issues with anxiety, and as we witnessed at last year’s Putt with Paige for the grand opening of The Dance Floor at Geneva National she’s a world-class player and athlete whose golf game can hang with anyone’s.

She routinely pounds her drives over 260 yards, has great control of her irons, a terrific sand and short game, and putts as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. Anyone other than Jerry Kelly. The two were infallible, and fans fortunate enough to attend were treated to an up-close and personal show the likes of which I’d never seen.

And the charitable foundations? JFK carded ten birdies and two eagles over the course of 18 holes, and Paige had seven birdies of her own to raise a total of $42,000!

What started out a worrisome day when Daly no-showed was saved big-time by the great people at Geneva National, Paige, Jerry and their teams. When you talk about turning lemons into lemonade, this was it.

The exhibition reaches the 9th green

WiscoGolfAddict’s role in the event Contributing Writer and professional photographer, Rich Bauer, and I were in the thick of the action all day, photographing the event from inside the ropes as well as from above the action and the crowds.

We took over 1,200 photos and videos. Here are a few of our favorites:

Did you attend this year’s Beauty vs. The Beast at Geneva National? What was your favorite memory and who would you like to see added to the group next year if/when it’s run back? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

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2 thoughts on “Beauty vs. The Beast: Paige Spiranac and Jerry Kelly Go Low to Raise Big Dollars for Charity at Geneva National

  1. I attended and have an awesome 6 second video of Paige coming off hole 9. I told her “nice shot in there” and she turned and gave me an awesome smile. She was enjoying the day too!

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