Men’s Northern tees off at Cooke this weekend

Herald File Photo. The 18th hole at Cooke Municipal Golf Course

For the 102nd time, the Men’s Northern Amateur Championship is set to tee off at Cooke Municipal Golf Course in Prince Albert this weekend.

Head organizer Martin Ring says he is looking forward to the tournament and seeing some familiar faces return to Cooke.

“We will see some guys that that we only see once a year. They do play lots of other events, but they choose the northern as one of their premier events that they want to come in and play in. For the Northern, it’s our 102nd consecutive year. It’s one of the longest running match play tournaments in western Canada as far as we know. It draws an exceptional field. It’s always a great competition, but more importantly, it’s some good friends getting back together.”

The Men’s Northern operates in a match play format, with a qualification round on Saturday seeding players into one of seven flights with matches beginning on Sunday morning.

Matches will continue through Sunday evening and into Monday, with the championship final expected to tee off on Monday afternoon around 1:30 p.m.

Ring says the weekend provides a mental and physical challenge for the players.

“They’re going to come in and see a golf course that is second to none right now in the province. It’s a long grind to get through the weekend to get into the finals. I’ve had the opportunity myself personally to be in those finals a couple of times and in particular on the championship side and whoever wins the golf tournament is certainly one of the premier players in the province.”

It has been a successful season for Cooke Municipal Golf Course as several major events have been hosted at the course throughout the summer including the Monday qualifier for the PGA Tour Canada’s Elk Ridge Saskatchewan Open and Golf Saskatchewan’s Senior Men’s and Women’s championship last month.

Ring, who is a member and frequently plays at Cooke, says some areas of the course have been playing more difficult than in previous years.

“There are parts of the course that are certainly starting to play a little bit tougher, the rough is certainly a little thicker than what we’ve seen over the last number of years. A lot of that is the fruition of the irrigation install that we did about five years ago and then all the extra trimming around the greens, we’re able to make and play shots now around the fringes of the greens that we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

Ring adds that some players underestimate Cooke due to the distance of the course playing shorter than numerous other courses in Saskatchewan.

Herald File Photo. Martin Rings speaks during the awards ceremony at the 2023 Saskatchewan Senior Men’s and Women’s Championship last month.

“The biggest thing for Cooke is that a lot of players do tend to look at the yardage on the scorecard and they come in licking their chops, thinking it’s playing at 6300 or 6400 yards. It’s a short course by today’s modern standards. The greens will definitely get their attention, (they) are the defense, always have been and always will be. For newbies coming in, you have to pay attention to where that pin is and try and keep your shots below the pin so that you’ve got some uphill putts. You get into some downhill putts and you’re going to be getting into some trouble. We’re a fairly tight course. We’ve got a lot of a lot of wooded areas throughout the golf course and with that, we’ve had some improvements there with some tree removal late last fall. We’re continuing to see the benefits of it.”

A long drive competition for the Men’s Northern will be hosted on Saturday evening. Last year’s defending champion Cory Selander headlines the field of 112 players.