What was once a dream is about to become a reality for the Elk Ridge Resort as the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada circuit will be coming to Waskesiu this week for the Elk Ridge Open.
“During our most recent staff meeting, I told everyone that we have to pinch ourselves back to reality a little bit as this is for real and it’s about to take place,” managing partner Ryan Danberg said on Friday.
“Since our first initial conversations with the Mackenzie Tour way back when, we certainly all looked at each other and felt very humble that they were even thinking of us to hold the event.”
The tournament, which begins on Thursday and runs until Saturday, marks the first time that the Mackenzie Tour has visited Saskatchewan since 2016, when the Dakota Dunes Open wrapped up a nine-year run at the Dakota Dunes Golf Links just south of Saskatoon.
“We haven’t had a golf event of this nature in the province in a few years,” said Danberg, who was referencing the 2018 CP Women’s Open at the Wascana Country Club in Regina, which was won by Canadian golf star Brooke Henderson.
A total of 117 golfers are listed on the entry list for the tournament, which includes Callum Davison, who won the most recent event in Cardigan, P.E.I. last week, and several Saskatchewan players, such as Prince Albert’s Danny Klughart and Yorkton’s Kade Johnson, who joined the tour on a full-time basis last month.
“There’s going to be a really strong caliber of players from across Canada that will be here for this tournament and I think that’s a testament to the strong grassroots programs and the junior tours we have in our country,” Danberg said.
“It’s impressive when you see guys shooting 23-under-par for a three-day tournament. That’s good golf on any course.”
The course itself is expected to provide several challenges, especially with the natural terrain that’s surrounding the holes.
“There really are no shortcuts on the course,” Danberg said. “A lot of the young guys tend to bomb the ball pretty far, especially compared to 10 years ago with how technology has advanced, but they aren’t hitting it quite as straight as they did back in the day.
“Hitting the ball straight is the most important factor to having a good tournament here. It’s important to keep the ball in play or you’ll be deal with trees, or as we like to joke around here, the 40-foot high rough.”
The tournament will officially get underway at 2 p.m. Tuesday with an opening ceremony, which will feature a ceremonial tee-off that will include honorary chair Graham DeLaet and Premier Scott Moe.
“It’s such a nice touch to have two top leaders from our province in their respective fields coming up for that event,” Danberg said.
“I grew up in the same era as Graham as he came up through the golf ranks and I grew up just 20 kilometers away from Premier Moe. We’re very grateful to have both of them come up and kick things off in a big way.”
Admission for Tuesday’s opening ceremonies, Wednesday’s practice rounds and all three days of the tournament, is free of charge thanks to the support from event sponsors Callaway Golf and Molson Coors.
“With our world being a little crazy right now, we feel like this is a great opportunity for people to come up here, walk around and keep their social distance, in addition to seeing some great golf being played,” Danberg said.