FARGO — When the Zebras Ryder Cup golf tournament commences around 11 a.m. on June 30 at Maple River Golf Club, there won’t be a shortage of officials. In fact, they’ll be everywhere.
Yes, referees do have plenty of friends.
“No doubt,” said Dave Klundt, in his 39th year of officiating. “Especially at the college level, you spend a lot of windshield time together. There becomes a bond there.”
That bond is coming together to help Dave’s daughter, Katie Klundt, who is battling a nervous system disorder. The original intent of the tournament was an event to get current and retired officials together, but morphed into helping Dave at the suggestion of a couple of others.
“I’m a retired military guy and it reminds me in the military of a band of brothers,” said Chris Heise, a longtime official who is a driver behind the event. “When we do a baseball, basketball or football game, they’re your best friends out there. We work together as a team.”
It didn’t take long for officials to take notice once word got out. The tournament is full with a waiting list of 12 golfers. To add some spice, the 18 holes will be divided into three separate Ryder Cup formats for two-person teams: six holes of best ball, six holes of alternate shot and a six-hole scramble.
A dinner, social and silent auction will follow at Hagge’s Bar & Grill in Mapleton. Golfers are coming from all corners of North Dakota and Minnesota. For instance, Ron Wright, a retired referee from Williston, N.D., sent three boxes of Terry Redlin prints for the auction.
Aaron Hill, one of the owners of the Fargo Brewery and a former referee, donated several items from his business.
“It has snowballed into a blizzard, which is a good thing,” said Heise, whose best man in his wedding was Klundt. “I’m not surprised because Dave knows a lot of people.”
Klundt, from Fargo and the events and aquatics manager for the Fargo Park District, has been all over the map in his contribution to officiating. He’s been on a football crew in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference for years and assigns crews for football games in the North Star Athletic Association.
He’s reffed at the college and high school level in basketball for many years, a job where he’s worked mainly with about a dozen familiar faces. He officiated an NCAA Division III women’s basketball national tournament quarterfinal game and numerous conference tourneys. He’s umpired NAIA, high school and American Legion baseball.
“You do your job and focus on that but the relationships you build, the camaraderie — giving each other a hard time — you spend more time doing that,” Klundt said. “And then you get to some point where it’s let’s focus on the game. Let’s talk about new rules, mechanics, maybe the league and some game film they want us to look at. But the vast majority of the time, it’s about getting to know each other.”
Dave said Katie is working her way from being in a wheelchair to a walker. There’s no official diagnosis but she’s on the mend. Lend A Hand Up (www.lendahandup.org) is matching funds up to $5,000.
“I’ve known Chris for 35 years, it’s typical Chris,” Dave said. “He’s such a kind-hearted, organized guy who always wants to help out people. When he sets his mind to doing something, he’s always in. It is much appreciated.”