The Minnesota Golf Association provides an opportunity for amateur golfers to still play in some competitive atmospheres through tournament golf all around the state.

On Monday, some of the top players from the Senior Tour were at the Alexandria Golf Club as part of the Northern Section’s eight scheduled events this summer season that runs from June 1 through Aug. 10. A total of 38 golfers were on hand at AGC as players in both a Senior (age 55-64) and Master (age 65 and older) Division competed for both gross and net points that will determine a winner from the section at season’s end.

“It’s phenomenal. This is such a joy,” Tim Maaske of both the Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids and the Balmoral Golf Course in Battle Lake said. “There is not a bad guy on this Senior Tour. I’ve played with a lot of people, and it is just a joy. They are passionate about the game, and they just want to have fun. Everybody wants everyone else to play well.”

Maaske played well himself at AGC on Monday. He was the Master Division’s gross winner after shooting a 73. Maaske birdied Nos. 6 and 9 to shoot 34 on the front. He added another birdie on the par-five 12th around bogies on Nos. 10, 13, 14 and 16 to shoot 1-over.

“I have played good golf, but I haven’t played very good tournament golf,” Maaske said of his summer. “This is my first year in the Master Division. I’ve gotten better each time, but it’s a different game. I’m playing OK, but I haven’t been able to keep it all together for 18 holes.”

Maaske had a feeling things might be coming around after shooting a 70 at Bunker Hills a few days prior to the event in Alexandria. He also has some familiarity with the Alexandria Golf Club after golfing a handful of times in the Resorters Golf Tournament over the years.

“Of all the courses we’ve played so far, this is the one I’m most familiar with,” Maaske said. “That makes a big difference. Most of these courses we’re playing on the Senior Tour are very penalizing, very tight. This one, it’s always in such great shape. I was really looking forward to playing because I know this course, and I knew what I needed to do.”

Maaske said he drove the ball well to help make up for his irons and putter not being as sharp as he would have liked. It was enough to get the job done.

“There’s a lot of good players on this tour. They got game, so you need to bring your ‘A’ game if you want to win,” Maaske said. “It keeps you sharp. In the Masters, we’re 65 and older, so just the joy of being able to get nervous and see how you respond is fun. I’ve failed so many times, but every once in a while I’m able to do it.”

Jim Zierden of Hackensack was the Master Division net-score winner during the Minnesota Golf Association's Senior Tour stop in Alexandria on Monday. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
Jim Zierden of Hackensack was the Master Division net-score winner during the Minnesota Golf Association's Senior Tour stop in Alexandria on Monday. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Jim Zierden of Hackensack was the net-score winner, which factors in each player’s handicap, in that Master Division. Zierden shot a 74 as he used his driver to carry him to a solid round.

“Course is beautiful. The greens were faster than what I’m used to, so the rain (from the night before) didn’t slow it much, if any,” Zierden said. “(My game) just came around today. I’ve been shooting mostly about 10 higher, so I really played well today.”

The MGA is doing what it can to help mitigate risk involved with running tournaments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the Senior Tour, each player rides in their own golf cart and scores are tracked electronically to avoid touching a physical scorecard.

“We’ve been able to play all the tournaments, but we all ride in single carts, so that helps,” Zierden said. “You try to keep your distance around the course.”

Wayne Caughey of the Perham Lakeside Golf Club won the Senior Gross Division during the stop in Alexandria on Monday.

Caughey shot a 74. He was even on the front with birdies on Nos. 1 and 6 and bogeys on 3 and 9. Caughey started the back nine with seven straight pars before running into bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 to finish out his round.

Phil Link of Pebble Lake Golf Club and Gene Poser of the Angushire Golf Club in St. Cloud tied for the net-score win in the Senior Division at AGC. Both racked up 45 points toward the season standings.

Link leads the Northern Section’s Senior Net point standings through five rounds with 157.5 points. Caughey and Scott Hinners of the Bemidji Town and Country Club are tied atop the season leaderboard in the Senior Gross standings with 132.5 points each.

Dana Flinck of Eagle Ridge Golf Course leads the Master Gross season standings with 142.5 points, with Mark Dunderi of Pebble Creek a close second at 140 points. Dunderi is leading the Master Net season point totals with 115, ahead of Flinck with 107.5.

The next three stops on the schedule for this group are at Izatys Resort-Black Brook on July 13, at Long Bow Golf Club on Aug. 3 and then at the Headwaters Golf Club on Aug. 10.