The top amateur golfers in Saskatchewan will make Cooke Municipal Golf Course their home next week when the Amateur Men’s, Amateur Women’s, and Mid-Amateur Championships tee off in Prince Albert.
Tournament director Steve Ryde said registration is already full for all three events, which begin on July 12. He’s confident the course will give all entrants a healthy challenge.
“Cooke Municipal is one of the top courses in Saskatchewan, and in the prairies, in my opinion,” Ryde said. “I know all the players are excited.”
Prince Albert last hosted the Men’s amateur tournament in 2014, Women’s or Mid-Am tournaments since the ’90s. In 2014, Prince Albert’s Martin Ring finished one stroke ahead of Unity’s Justin Wood to capture the Men’s Amateur Championship. Then in 1991, Kim Brozer of Melfort finished two strokes ahead of Estevan’s Jodi Wilhelm to win the Women’s Amateur Championship at Cooke Municipal.
Five years later, Delisle’s Colin Coben beat Saskatoon’s Raymond Field in a playoff to win the 1996 Mid-Am Championship. The victory came just one year after Coben won the Men’s Amateur Championship in Prince Albert.
“Location is the number one priority when we select championships,” Ryde said. “Obviously with Cooke being a championship facility, we’ll expect a full field.”
Poor playing conditions have hampered golf tournaments across the north this summer. Recently, PGA Tour Canada officials cancelled the inaugural Elk Ridge Open after receiving 10 inches of rain in 10 days.
The weather forecast calls for a mixture of sun and cloud from July 12-14, with a risk of thunderstorms developing on July 15, the last day of the Men’s Amateur.
Ryde said they’re be ready for whatever comes their way.
“With Mother Nature, we can only plan for it days out, or even hours out sometimes,” he said. “We’ll act accordingly. I know the superintendents and grounds crew will have that course in tip-top shape.”
The tournament will have plenty of local flavour heading into the first day of action. Prince Albert’s Danny Klughart is looking for his first Men’s Amateur Championship win since 2019, when he won a one-round playoff against Jehremy Ryde in Saskatoon. Klughhart finished runner-up at both the 2002 Men’s Championship in Warman, and the 2021 tournament in Swift Current. He has also won the last three Mid-Amateur Championships.
Klughart said local golfers will have a bit of a home course advantage heading into the competition, but that alone won’t be enough to win.
“We know the layout, and Cooke is a very unique and tricky golf course, so having that knowledge is definitely a huge advantage,” he said. “Just getting comfortable, refining the short game and the putting, and making sure we’re hitting the ball in the right places on the golf course to eliminate those big mistakes will be the best strategy.”
On the women’s side, Yorkton’s Ella Kozak won the 2021 tournament in Swift Current, beating Regina’s Autumn Neiszner by one stroke. Shell Lake’s Brooklyn Fry won the 2020 Women’s Championship, beating Saskatoon’s Kathy Ziglo in Warman.
Fry is also competing at the Saskatchewan Junior Championships, which begin today in Regina.
Klughart will also serve as co-chair of the Sask. Amateur Championships, along with Brett Blackely and Cory Selander. As an organizer, Klughart said it’s great to have the amateur tournaments back in Prince Albert.
“It’s really exciting,” he said. “The golf course is in fantastic shape. Pierre (Cooke Municipal Golf Course superintendent Pierre Vezeau) and his staff have done a great job. It’s probably one of the best years the greens have wintered in, I would say, the last 10-12 years, so it’s really exciting. We’re fortunate to host an event like this while the golf course is like that.”
For more information on the Saskatchewan Amateur Golf Championships, visit www.golfsaskatchewan.org.
Editor’s Note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Men’s Amateur Championship had not been held in Prince Albert since 1995. Cooke Municipal Golf Course actually last hosted the event in 2014. The story has since been updated. The Daily Herald apologizes for the error.