Eagle Creek to host MGA youth golf tourney
Legendary University of Minnesota golf coach Lester Bolstad and David Tentis, a current Champions Tour player, share common ground: They won the Minnesota junior boys' championships in 1923 and 1979, respectively.
Legendary University of Minnesota golf coach Lester Bolstad and David Tentis, a current Champions Tour player, share common ground: They won the Minnesota junior boys’ championships in 1923 and 1979, respectively.
Beginning Monday, 144 youths will be competing to join their ranks during the 89th Minnesota State Junior Boys’ Championship at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Willmar.
Eagle Creek is hosting the two-day tournament for the first time since the course opened in 1931.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase our course,” Eagle Creek pro Joel Jacobson said. “We have a real secret here outside of the (Twin Cities).”
Eagle Creek features hills, pine trees and a creek that meanders throughout the course. It’s unlike any other course in the surrounding area and will provide a tough test for the competitors, Jacobson said.
“Very unique,” said Doug Hoffmann, the Minnesota Golf Association’s Tournament Director. “One side is tight and shorter. The back nine and front nine are more open and longer. It’s a tale of two golf courses. Families are going to enjoy the whole package.”
Decotah Ridge in Morton was host of last year’s tournament. Freddy Thomas, now a DePaul University golfer, won the championship with a 36-hole total of 144, seven strokes better than Max Redetzke. Because he’s now a college player, Thomas is not eligible to play this year.
Tournament players must be 18 years or younger, can’t play on college teams and the must be Minnesota residents.
“That is the fun thing about golf,” Hoffmann said. “You can have players of all abilities that can actually participate one-on-one and understand what it means to play at a state-level championship. The fact that they can participate is a great thing.”
According to Fortune.com, Professional Golf Association Junior League Golf has expanded from 1,500 youth participants in 2012 to 8,900 in 2013. In 2014, participation doubled to 18,000 kids.
The field for this year’s event was increased to 144 competitors, up from 120 last year.
“It is hard to pinpoint a reason,” MGA Tournament Manager Adam Bragee said. “I think there are so many opportunities out there and I think kids are starting to see that. There is such a great golf community in Minnesota, and I think that helps.”
Annually, golf brings in $1.2 billion to Minnesota.
“There is always a saying, ‘They are the future of our business,’ “Jacobson said. “I guess it starts there. I am hoping some of our younger ones come out and watch the event.”