Competitors set to tee off at Men’s Northern qualifiers Saturday morning

Greg Swenson pumps his fist after making a birdie putt on the 15th hole at the Cooke Municipal Golf Course on Monday afternoon to win the 100th edition of the Men’s Northern over Trevor Ring in 2021. -- Herald file photo.

The Men’s Northern Amateur Tournament returns for its 101st year on Saturday, but organizers hope things will cool off before tee time.

Temperatures soared up to 32 C on Friday in a replay of how things went one year ago. In 2021, golfers teed off in close to 30 C temperatures at the tournament’s centennial celebration.

However, co-chairs Martin Ring and Jeff McKeand are more concerned about keeping the rain away this weekend instead of the heat.

“Last year’s Northern was absolutely scorching for three days, so a little bit of cloud cover would be welcome,” Ring said with a chuckle on Friday. “What we want to avoid is having any rain delays, because it’s a very tight schedule.”

This year’s Northern has 112 registered players, including 25 from Prince Albert. They’ll play a qualifying round on Saturday, before match play beings on Sunday.

While weather is a concern, so are the lingering effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Ring said some players still aren’t comfortable travelling, while others are so eager to travel they can’t fit golf into their schedule.

This year’s number of registered players is slightly down from the 128 who teed off in the Centennial Tournament last year, but still well within the regular turnout.

“We had a lot of past champions who made an effort to come back and play in the event (in 2021), so this year we’re down a little bit, and some of it still might be a little COVID-related,” he said.

“All in all, we’re really satisfied having 112 players registered.”

Ring said Cooke Municipal Golf Course’s stellar reputation has helped draw golfers to events like the Northern. Holding the Saskatchewan Men’s and Women’s Amateur tournaments, along with the Men’s Mid-Am, also gave the course more exposure, and that’s helped boost the Northern’s popularity.

“The golf course is absolutely fantastic, and word got out,” Ring said. “Guys are coming to not only play in the tournament, but they just love playing the golf course.

“It’s a tournament that is certainly popular across the province,” he added. “Individual tournaments are becoming a little tougher to attract people to, but the Northern is still one that (draws golfers).”

Saskatoon’s Greg Swenson took home top spot in 2021, draining a birdie putt on the 15th hole to secure the win over Prince Albert’s Trevor Ring. The last Prince Albert golfer to win the tournament was Danny Klughart in 2020.

Northern qualifiers begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, with the final group teeing off shortly before noon. Golfers will then compete in one of seven flights depending on their score. They tee off for two match-play rounds on Sunday, and another two on Monday.

The final match of the tournament will begin around 1:15 to 1:30 a.m. on Monday.