Golf tournament is a joy to run

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five years ago, in the middle of another long Minnesota winter, I came up with a crazy idea. I wanted to host one of the premier high school boys golf tournaments in the state.

I told my athletic director about it, and he was very supportive and said he’d help me in any way possible but that “most of the ‘Cities’ schools couldn’t find Albert Lea on a map let alone be willing to travel here for a tournament.” I wasn’t convinced.

I contacted Al Christopherson, an Albert Lea native now teaching and coaching golf at Wayzata. He agreed to help me convince teams to come to Albert Lea. But we had one big problem.

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I wanted it to be a two-day tournament, one day at each of the fabulous courses in town. I thought there’s no way management at both courses will agree to give up their course for my crazy vision.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jeff Elseth (Green Lea owner), Donnie Teeter (Wedgewood Cove general manager) and I met, and I was nervous. I suggested an April date for the tournament, thinking they might be more willing to give up course time early in the season. They asked me why I wouldn’t want to have it in May, dramatically increasing the chance for nice weather? I was bowled over. But I certainly didn’t question them. So we went with the third weekend in May.

Albert Lea is filled with wonderful people, but two of my favorites are Jeff and Donnie (and all the people who work for them are great, too). I hope people realize how lucky we are to have two great golf courses offering two unique golf challenges, owned and ran by amazing people.

My crazy vision, the Albert Lea High School invitational, now in its fourth year, attracts teams from all over the Twin Cities and beyond, and every year we hear how it’s the best run tournament in the state (better than the state tournament event), and, of course, a large part of that success goes to Tiff Syverson and the rest of the booster club parents, who volunteer their time and come up with amazing ideas of how to make the event unique and special, plus Susie Petersen at the Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Bank and a host of other wonderful sponsors.

But the bottom line is the tournament could not be held without the two golf courses, and with golf being such a big part of my own life and general contentment, there’s no other town I’d rather live and raise my children in than Albert Lea.


Riley Worth
Albert Lea