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Editorial - A salute to 88 years of family traditions

For 88 years, the Resorters Golf Tournament at the Alexandria Golf Course (AGC) has been providing memorable moments of great golf.

But it goes far beyond that.

It's an event that binds families together, keeps drawing new generations of families into the lakes area and establishes proud traditions that connect the past to the present.

The Echo Press once again had the privilege of covering the event last week, producing five daily publications filled with photos and results. The days are long - coverage starts when the golfers tee off at 7 a.m. and it's often after midnight before that day's publication is a wrap. And of course, there's still the "regular" newspaper to produce twice that week.

But the effort is worth it. The appreciative comments we receive from golfers and their families are day brighteners.

There's that word "families" again. A person can't talk about the Resorters very long without getting into the family connections.

Look what happened in the Men's Executive final match, for example. Two brothers - Stefan Freeman of St. Cloud and Jon Freeman of Chanhassen - dueled for 19 holes in the final before Stefan was able to complete an amazing comeback to win it.

Then there's the Lehman family.

Professional golfer Tom Lehman spent a lot of time out at the course last week watching his brother and eventual Men's champion Jim Lehman Jr., along with his son, Thomas, and nephew, Connor. Lehman is in Minnesota ready to battle the extremely long conditions at Hazeltine in the PGA Championship, which starts this Thursday.

Tom won the Men's championship at the Resorters in 1980, so Jim's title adds to the family legacy that was already well established at the Alexandria Golf Club.

The golfer Lehman met up with in the final, Will Harris of Alexandria, also has a family with a rich history of golf running through its branches. Will's uncle, John, made it into the Resorters semifinals in 1972, is a former University of Minnesota All American and is on the PGA tour. His grandfather, Dr. Bob Harris, went all the way to the finals of the U.S. Senior Amateur last year.

Many golfers, along with their wives and families, have been playing the Resorters for decades. Senior Men's champion, Jon Empanger of Chaska, for instance, has missed only one tournament since the early 1970s.

The Fitzgerald family, headed by Jim Fitzgerald of Montgomery, Texas - a former champion in the Resorters' Masters division - uses the tournament as a family reunion. This year, about 20 of the family members sported "Team Fitz" shirts while watching Jim and Tim Fitzgerald of Boise, Idaho, compete in the tourney. They also celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary in the family.

The golfers appreciate the special connection the Resorters tournament provides. "Thank you, [AGC] members, for keeping a great tradition alive," said Empanger at the awards ceremony Saturday. "The traditions you've established here are second to none," said Jim Lehman later in the ceremony. "Thanks to everyone that's a part of it."

We'd like to add our thanks to all those who keep the Resorters rolling year after year, along with the participants, spectators and family members who keep coming back for more.