Baffled by birdies? A basic guide to the Principal Charity Classic

The Principal Charity Classic brings PGA Tour pros to Des Moines for some great golf. (Photo: Principal Charity Classic)

Even if your golf knowledge is limited to mini-golf and “Happy Gilmore,” the Principal Charity Classic is still a quintessential Des Moines event that gives you an excuse to spend a day or two outdoors. This year’s tournament, today through Sunday at the newly restored Wakonda Club, brings together some of the world’s best senior golfers to compete while raising millions for children’s charities. Here are some quick answers to the questions you may have been too afraid to ask:

1. What exactly is the Principal Charity Classic?
It’s a huge charity event cleverly disguised as a golf tournament at the swanky, south-side Wakonda Club. Since 2007, it’s raised more than $50 million for kids’ charities. It’s a major stop on the PGA Tour Champions, a league for golfers 50 and older.

2. Can I still get tickets?
Absolutely. Choose from single-day, multiday, or Trophy Club passes that come with free drinks and snacks. Just a heads-up: Prices go up during tournament week.

3. Who will be there?
More than 80 golfers from the PGA Tour Champions will compete for this weekend’s $2 million purse. Legends like World Golf Hall of Famer Nick Price have played and won this tournament in the past. This year, former champ Stephen Ames and fan favorite Billy Andrade return. (If you can’t name any golfers besides Tiger Woods, take note: These guys are the real deal.)

4. What will non-golfers enjoy?
This is a family-friendly event with plenty of activities for children, including a play area. There are several fan hubs throughout the course, each with its own theme and amenities — beer gardens, yard games, video boards to watch the action and more. Your ticket type determines which areas you can access.

5. What should I bring?
Don’t forget sunscreen, comfy shoes, a hat and an empty water bottle to fill at hydration stations throughout the course. You can bring a lawn chair, but there’s a strict bag policy, so leave those backpacks at home.

6. What charities will benefit?
The tournament has four main charity partners: Blank Children’s Hospital, MeryOne Des Moines Medical Center, United Way, and Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa. Some proceeds will support dozens of smaller organizations throughout the state that benefit children. This year, Drive for 515 adds an extra charitable (and competitive) element, since the Principal Foundation will donate more if players land some of the extra tricky shots throughout the tournament.

7. What else should I know?
Since the Wakonda Club’s recent restoration, the entrance has changed. Head to the south side to enter the course. Spectators can take free shuttles from downtown or join in this year’s inaugural bike ride from the same lot, ending at the club with a free bike valet. There are also VIP parking options and ride-share drop-off spots.

The dress code is summer casual, so consider polo shirts and sundresses. With this year’s bike ride, some guests may wear athletic gear, too.

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