Steamboat Springs For the past two days, local golfer Paul Berry has traveled to out-of-town golf tournaments but he knows his days of competing on the road are coming to an end.
That's because local juniors will get the chance to take to the green fairways of the Steamboat Golf Club July 31 for the annual Cowboy Shootout. The City Championships and the Haywhacker will follow that event later this summer.
It's the time of year that always seems to put a smile on the face of local junior golf supporter Bill Nickey. He started the Cowboy Shootout seven years ago and acts as the Steamboat golf club's director of junior golf.
This tournament, and the others which follow, is just what he had envisioned seven years ago when he first started the event as a way to get local juniors involved with the sport of golf. Back then there were just a few junior golfers, even fewer junior programs and a need for more local junior tournaments.
"I think it is pretty good right now," Berry said of the junior golf season. "Sure, I would like to see a few more tournaments during the summer, but this might be as many as they can have."
This year the Shootout will host more than 30 local juniors at the Steamboat Golf Club west of Steamboat. But the number of golfers doesn't really matter to Nickey, who has spent the better part of the last decade trying to spark the interest of local teenagers like Berry to pick up golf clubs and play the game.
In this tournament, golfers will play a different number of holes depending on which age division they fall into. Golfers between the ages of 16-18 and 14-15 will play 18 holes. Younger players in the 12-13 and 10-11 groups will play nine holes and the youngest golfers in the 9-and-under group will challenge their skills on five holes.
"I started this tournament as a way to introduce kids to the sport and get them out on the course," organizer Bill Nickey said. "It has become a great opportunity for young players to get out and enjoy competitive golf."
The shootout will precede the Haymaker's annual end-of-season tournament and the annual city championships, which take place at all three of the local courses.
"It depends on who you play with. If you get with some of the better players in your age division it can be pretty competitive, but overall it's not very serious. Most of the players just want to have fun," Berry said of the shootout.
Last year 33 golfers took part in the Shootout. The field is limited to golfers from Steamboat Springs and Routt County.
Nickey explained that Craig already offers a large junior tournament for its juniors and he didn't really want to open this event to golfers who are just visiting the area on vacation.
The deadline to enter the local tournament is July 28 no phone or late entries will be accepted. The cost to play is $20 and includes tournament fee, food and prizes.
Entries must be made at the Steamboat Golf Club Pro Shop by completing the entry form and paying fee.
The tournament is scheduled for July 31 with the 18-hole groups teeing off at 10:30 a.m. The nine-hole groups will join in with a shotgun start at approximately 1 p.m. The 9-and-under players will also begin their round at the same time.
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