The Minnesota PGA wants to send off the state’s prep senior golfers with a “responsible” way to play in one more tournament.
So the organization is hosting the 2020 Minnesota High School Senior Golf Showcase on June 9-10 at Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids. A boys’ 18-hole individual tournament will be played the first day, a similar girls’ tournament the second.
“We wanted to provide the seniors an opportunity to play,” Minnesota PGA Chief Executive Officer JD Drimel said. “During a period when there is a bunch of bad news, we wanted to give them something good.”
Each field will be limited to 114 participants, with groups teeing off starting at 7:30 a.m. Currently 108 boys and 68 girls have registered for the event.
The event will follow state health guidelines including social distancing and monitor compliance. Fans and caddies will not be permitted. Play will adhere to golf course modifications that followed Gov. Tim Walz allowing courses to open on April 18.
The event has attracted two of the state’s best in Gunnar Broin of Minnetonka High School, who won the 2019 Minnesota boys’ junior PGA championship, and Shelby Busker of Detroit Lakes, the 2019 ’Sota Series girls’ player of the year. Busker finished in eighth place in the Class 2A high school state tournament.
Priority registration was given to those who played in the 2019 Minnesota State High School League state tournament as juniors. Seniors who did not qualify for the state tournaments a year ago are now being registered. The cost is $40 per player.
“We are definitely a go,” Drimel said. “It has been positively received.”
The league shut down the spring sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic on April 23. That paved the way for the Minnesota PGA plan.
In putting the tournaments together, Drimel said organizers “did not want to step on’’ the league. “It’s an event we have been talking about for a while,” he said.
Owing to the pandemic, it also comes with a liability of release, posted on the Minnesota PGA Junior Golf website, that says event procedures and policies are “subject to change based on any future orders issued by any government authority with jurisdiction.’’ In addition, “the MNPGA, our sponsors and our host facilities DO NOT provide any assurance that such events will be conducted free of risk, including risks associated with the COVID-19 VIRUS.”
Drimel added that organizers didn’t want Walz ‘‘thinking we were pushing the issue. We are going to do this being responsible while following the Governor’s guidelines.”
Bunker Hills would have hosted the Class 3A state tournament on the same dates. Unlike at a state tournament, however, the event has set tee times instead of a shotgun start, allowing players to show up before their tee times rather than en masse. They will leave after they finish their rounds, with no post-event awards ceremony. Honors for first, second and third place will be mailed out.
In addition to limiting those on the course, there is no touching of flagsticks and sand trap rakes. Scoring will be kept online.
“It’s forcing us to start working in the technology age,” Drimel said.