It’s been 14 years now, but Alexandria native Bryce Hanstad can still remember the emotions he felt as the week got further and further along.
Hanstad had to wait a year for a chance at redemption at the Resorters Golf Tournament. He fell in a 6-5 final to Ryan Smith of Victoria in the 2006 Men’s Division championship at the Alexandria Golf Club. In 2007, he returned as a 20-year old playing Division I golf at Colorado State and as one of the heavy favorites back on his home course.
“I definitely had some better perspective going back in 2007 versus 06,” Hanstad recalled. “I had a year of college under my belt and some maturity at that point having played a year. I had gotten more used to the 36-hole days, so taking Saturday of the Resorters a little more in stride and pacing myself. Our college events were 36 holes the first day and then 18 the next day. I think that experience and then playing against some of the top players in the country at Colorado State in our events, a lot of that really helped me be a little more comfortable.”
Hanstad certainly felt the pressure as an Alexandria native. He grew up playing at the Alexandria Golf Club and worked in the clubhouse from the time he was 16-years old through college. He would later go on to play professionally on the Gateway and Dakotas Tour.
Winning a Resorters championship against the quality competition that frequents this tournament in now its 100th year is meaningful for any golfer no matter where they come from. But it’s especially true for players who grow up around this event.
“You get to the point where you’re sick and tired of caddying and you want to play yourself,” Alexandria native and British Open champion Tom Lehman said when recalling his 1980 Resorters Men’s Division championship in an interview with the Echo Press in 2014. “We all grew up thinking this was our U.S. Open. This was the biggest event of the year by far and to win the Resorters was every kid’s dream.”
Hanstad can certainly relate. Tournament wins in his career included the 2007 Minnesota Golf Association State Amateur Championship at Hazeltine. That came just a couple weeks prior to his run through the 2007 Resorters that was capped off with a 5-4 championship win over Danny Anderson of Willmar. A week of nervous energy gave way to relief and excitement as he hoisted the trophy near the AGC putting green.
“It’s a fast follow from my state amateur victory,” Hanstad said of where the Resorters victory ranks in his golf wins. “To have those both happen within a couple week span, that was just kind of a wild, fun ride to be on. With Resorters being over five, six days, to continue sleeping on who you know you’re playing the next day, there’s just an inherent buzz of being a local, so it carries a lot of significance for me.”
Record numbers after a century of significance
For 100 years, players have woken up late in the week at this tournament and felt those nerves.
Alexandria’s Jerry Rose has three Men’s Division championships at the Resorters from 1979, 1983 and 2000. Rose is again a part of that Men’s Championship field this year while he also helps run the tournament.
Rose said their research showed that the Resorters is the second-longest running amateur match-play event in the country. The North & South Championship, with a 121-year history played at Pinehurst in North Carolina, is the longest continuous-running match play event.
This year’s Resorters field will see record numbers with more than 480 golfers on the entry list as of late July. By comparison, 372 golfers were in last year’s field.
The Alexandria Golf Club is planning to accommodate 448 entries, which meant they needed someone to step up after they were flooded with more than 500 golfers wanting to take part when registration opened.
Grant Hanson, Director of Golf at the Geneva Golf Club in Alexandria, heard about the overwhelming response. He got on the phone and offered to help. Geneva will host Centennial Flights for this year’s tournament. Those who make the final day of those flights will play at AGC on Aug. 7.
“Grant and (Geneva head golf pro) Jon (Crouse) and the team over there were just terrific in regards to working with us,” Rose said. “Our goal has been to make this a great event for the community and not just the Alexandria Golf Club. It’s the cornerstone event for our club and a huge part of our financial success each year, but we all recognized how important it is for the community and the amount of tourism it brings in.”
The Resorters organizing committee has worked in recent years to make the tournament more enjoyable for fans and players alike. Strict pace-of-play policies implemented about five years ago eliminated some of the six-hour rounds that had bogged down play.
"We have people all over the country who come to this. It’s fun to see that it continues to be on an upswing after even 100 years."
- Bryce Hanstad, 2007 Resorters champion on another talented field competing this year.
Rose said his goal has been to make the 100th Resorters feel like a PGA tournament through events during the week and signage and markers on the course.
The Centennial Celebration Pro-Am will kick off the tournament on Saturday, July 31 with a 2 p.m. shotgun start. There will be a past-champions dinner and other meals throughout the week that will utilize local restaurants.
“We have sponsors this year in the pro-am that Tom Lehman is going to play in and play with the sponsors,” Rose said. “I think Tom is going to put on a clinic just prior to the pro-am out on the driving range. One of the big things we’re trying to do is get the community more involved to try to generate some excitement and opportunities for our local restaurants and businesses.”
PGA Tour veteran Matt Gogel will join Lehman in playing in the pro-am and conducting that clinic. Gogel has played eight events on the PGA’s Champions Tour during the 2020-21 season and recently shot rounds of 68, 72, 69 and 70 to finish tied for 18th at the Senior British Open Championship. Lehman, who has played in 22 events with three top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour this season, tied for 11th at that same tournament with a 277 after rounds of 68, 71, 68 and 70.
A talented field
The field of golfers this year includes all of the 2020 division winners back at AGC in Rick Vanyo, Seniors; Betsy Aldrich, Women's Executive; Tom Eidsvold, Grand Masters; Nicholas Adams, Men's Regular; Austin Vukovits, Men's Championship; Dan Elton, Masters; Lunden Esterline, Junior 10-12; Troy Johnson, Men's Executive; Hannah Boraas, Junior 13-15; and Ale Heinen, Women's Division. Both Esterline, now Junior 13-15, and Boraas, Women’s Division, have moved up age levels after winning the junior fields a year ago.
Donald Constable (2010), Jacques Wilson (2014), and Brian Choe (2018) join Vukovits and Rose as former men’s champions in the 2021 field. Last year’s runner-up, Josh Galvin (Maple Grove senior in 2021), joins recent contenders like Lincoln Johnson (University of Minnesota, 2016 runner-up), Nate Adams (North Dakota State University, 2018 runner-up) and Will Harris (2009 runner-up) as guys looking to win their first Men’s Division championship.
“It’s really exciting and very cool they’ve been able to keep it going and continue to draw top participants,” Hanstad said. “We have people all over the country who come to this. It’s fun to see that it continues to be on an upswing after even 100 years.”
Hanstad remembers well what these players will feel as they get later in the week when the wins pile up. Those who make it to Saturday’s championships in their division will certainly earn it this year with record numbers and talented golfers in every division.
100th Resorters Tournament
WHEN: July 31, 2021 (Resorters Pro-Am) through Aug. 7
WHERE: Alexandria Golf Club (Main flights) and Geneva Golf Club (Centennial Flights)
RESULTS: Follow along with full championship flight coverage of the Resorters Tournament through the Echo Press website at www.echopress.com.