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Red River Amateur golf tournament continues to up its game

Annual event at Moorhead Country Club will feature three days of live TV coverage

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Nate Deziel watches his ball fly as he follows through his swing at the 2021 Red River Valley Amateur golf tournament at the Moorhead Country Club.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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MOORHEAD — It’s as if the organizers of the Red River Amateur presented by Verazity Storage golf tournament try to one-up themselves every year. The event, which runs Friday through Sunday, is adding a women’s division in addition to a men's field with the top players from the area.

Add to that an unprecedented three days of live coverage by WDAY-TV on its Xtra channel and it adds up to a whole lot of going on at the Moorhead Country Club.

“I haven’t been around long enough to know the true depth of all the fields,” said Moorhead head professional Chris Howell, “but in my opinion, it’s one of the best if not the best strength of fields we’ve ever had in this event. It’s just solid top to bottom.”

The tournament is a spinoff from the old KX Amateur that was held for decades at the course. The stroke play championship division will cut to the top 60 players and ties for Sunday’s final round, with the leaders teeing off around noon.

WDAY is set to televise the tournament Friday from noon to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Edgewood head professional Greg McCullough and legendary golf pro Larry Murphy will be in the booth in addition to four reporters on the course following the top groups.

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The station will employ 10 cameras and a production crew of 17 people. The biggest challenge compared to a football or basketball production is the spread-out nature of a golf course.

“In golf, you have a whole bunch of leaders and a whole bunch of groups in such a big space and it becomes a challenge logistically,” said Stacey Anderson, operations manager for WDAY. “I think we’ve continued to make these steps the last few years and it’s one of those things that is setting us apart from what everybody else does. Will it look like the Masters? No. But is it bigger than anything anybody else does? Yes.”

WDAY aired the final round last year. It’s going two more steps this time around and making a weekend of it — with the hope of better weather instead of a hard, steady rain.

“We had a good plan last year until rain destroyed it,” Anderson said. “Last year was going to be longer, but the rain kiboshed it.”

Like last year, the tourney is focusing on more than golf with “The Alley” beer garden setting up shop behind the No. 11 green and in front of the No. 12 tee box. A jumbotron video board will have the leaderboard in addition to WDAY’s coverage. A burger and brat stand will be stationed near the par-3 14th tee box.

The men’s field includes most of North Dakota State’s team that finished runner-up in the Summit League tournament, including Summit champion Nate Deziel, who finished second in a playoff to Van Holmgren in last year’s Red River Am. Holmgren has moved on to professional golf.

The women’s field includes NDSU player Leah Skaar, who is in the midst of a busy week. She’s playing in the championship match of the Minnesota Golf Association Women’s Match Play on Thursday at Burl Oaks Golf Club on the outskirts of the Twin Cities.

“She has a busy week,” Howell said. “We’re super excited to get the NDSU ladies on board and she’s a tremendous player.”

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The women’s division came as a result of the men’s field last year attracting former Summit champion Teresa Toscano, a former South Dakota State golfer who has since gone on to pro golf.

“Everybody loved to watch her play,” Howell said. “And in meeting her, she’s a better person than a player and we saw something there for the women rather than play as a lady in the men’s division. Let’s open it up to a true women’s championship.”

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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