Hey Ref – Zebra Open

By Duncan Ryhorchuk


This past August, on a sunny day on Stonebrooke Golf Club, JB Olson volunteered to help a cause. No, wait, that is not completely correct. As an organizer of the Zebra Open Golf Tournament, JB Olson volunteered his time and organizational skills for a good cause that has had a close effect on his life. No, wait, that still is not completely correct. For the last seven years, JB Olson has volunteered his time, effort and organizational skills to make a difference in millions of Americans lives.

The Zebra Open Golf Tournament is like all other summer golf tournaments participated in by hockey enthusiasts; it is a great time. But unlike all the others, all the money raised goes to a cancer-related cause.

The following question and answer session with Olson shows how this golf tournament has evolved into a must attend event for many.


Q: What is the history of this event?

JBO: This tournament started seven years ago, with six people who played 18 holes of golf. The participants then took all of their betting money from the golf game, $350, and donated it to the American Cancer Society. 

In 2005, there were two Zebra Open events. The first one, The Northern Tournament, had four participants. The donation from that event was $240; it was donated to American Cancer Society. The second open, The Twin Cities Event had 12 participants, who donated a total of $650 to Jon and Kelley Campion (Jon was a WCHA ref and Kelley had terminal cancer). 

In 2006, the event was held for the first time at Little Falls Country Club. It had 27 participants, who raised $3,100 for Jon and Kelley Campion. In year four, 2007, the tournament in Little Falls drew 31 people who raised $3,000 for the Zebra Foundation. 

This year was the fourth year in a row that it was held at Stonebrooke Golf Course in Shakopee. Over the last four years, the tournament raised $1,250, $1,760, $2,700 and $2,490, respectively. The number of golfers attending has been between 40-50 golfers the past four years in Shakopee. Ideally, the tournament would get a foursome from each Minnesota Hockey District (13 districts = 52 golfers). Singles are very welcome to register as some teams need a extra player.


Q: Where has the money raised been donated?

JBO: • 2004 – $350 (Monticello CC) - American Cancer Society

• 2005 – $240 (North version at Fertile CC) – American Cancer Society; $650 (South version at Rush Creek) – Jon and Kelley Campion

• 2006 – $3,100 (Little Falls CC) – Jon and Kelley Campion

• 2007 – $3,000 (Little Falls CC) – $500 to Little Falls Youth Hockey Association; $2,500 to Hockey Fights Cancer

• 2008 – $1,250 (Stonebrooke) – Hockey Fights Cancer

• 2009 – $1,760 (Stonebrooke) – Hockey Fights Cancer

• 2010 – $2,700 (Stonebrooke) – NHL Officials Association Zebras Care

• 2011 – $2,490 (Stonebrooke) – Zebras Care



Q: What team had this year’s best score?

JBO: 15-under, by Brian Thul, Jeff Beckers, Tom Sterns and Zach Nelson


Q: What is the date for next year’s tournament?

JBO: The prospective 2012 date is August 10, 2012, with the prospective course being TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. The cost is TBD (around $75 entry fee). Hole sponsorships are available ($50 minimum, most donate $100). Mulligans are also available for purchase.


Q: Are there any other people or organizations that help with this event that should be thanked?

JBO: Brian Thul – This tournament was started in 2004, shortly after Brian and I had both lost a parent to cancer.

MHOA – Supporting and sponsoring the event.

Brian Mach – NHL linesman, event coordinator at the Little Falls events, NHLOA Zebras Care contact.


The Zebra Open Golf Tournament did not come about from necessity but from a desire to do for others. Although the tournament is primarily attended by hockey referees, all golfers, whether they are involved in hockey or not, are welcome!


Did you know that each year 12 million Americans are newly diagnosed cancer patients? That is approximately four percent of the United States population directly effected each year by this sickness. [11.7 million people were newly diagnosed with cancer out of 312 million population in 2007; source = US National Cancer Institute (SEER data)].


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