Almost 140 youth golfers are taking over Haymaker Golf Course today and Thursday for the annual Haywhacker Tournament.
Golfers ages 11 to 18 will be vying for titles and Colorado Junior Golf Association points.
The Haywhacker is an official two-day CJGA event, and the course will be closed to the public until the tournament ends each day. The public likely will be back on the course by the afternoon.
"Haymaker appreciates the local support and the community support for allowing these kids to participate in one of the most popular events on the competitive circuit," Haymaker golf pro Hank Franks said. "Haymaker is kid-friendly and certainly promotes junior golf."
The appeal of a two-day tournament in Steamboat and the opportunity to score CJGA points attracts many of the state's top young golfers. Franks estimated that 90 percent of the field is from the Front Range, but several local players will be trying to take advantage of their knowledge of the links-style course.
On the short list are former Steamboat Springs High School golfer Kenton Gamache and current SSHS golfer Paul Berry, as well as up-and-comers Michael Weston and Mick Dierdorff. They are in the 14- to 18-year-old division. Berry won last year's Haywhacker.
Betty Chung and Chris Shaw won the female and male titles, respectively, in the 11- to 13-year-old division last year and are signed up to play again. Andrea Watts, the 2004 female champion in the older division, isn't in the field.
"We will get some of the best players in the state," Franks said. "They know it's a competitive environment up here."
Since the latter part of May, Haymaker has received nearly 6 inches of precipitation, creating additional work for the maintenance staff. Franks said Bill Whelihan and his crew have done "an amazing job" preparing the course each day and for tournaments.
"The golf course couldn't be better," he said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com