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Golf: Resorters intrigue builds off success of 2021

Big entry numbers, talented fields return to Alexandria for the 101st Resorters Tournament that starts this weekend and wraps up with championship matches on Aug. 6 at the Alexandria Golf Club.

Resorters Golf Tournament
The 2021 Resorters Tournament champions from the 100th playing of this event are, back, left to right, Braeden Sladek, Men's Championship; Tom Ryan, Masters; Betsy Aldrich, Women's Executive; Nicholas Adams, Men's Regular; Mark Lindberg, Senior; (front) Will Hacker, Junior 10-12; Bennett Olsen, Junior 13-15; Alayna Eldred, Women's Division; and Troy Johnson, Men's Executive. Not pictured is Grand Master Division winner Jerry Gruidl. Many division champions are back for the 2022 tournament that runs from this Saturday with the annual pro-am and wraps up with championship matches on Aug. 6 at the Alexandria Golf Club.<br/>
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — The intrigue of playing in the week-long match play Resorters Golf Tournament in Alexandria has grown in terms of entries in recent years, and the success of the 100th celebration of the tournament in 2021 seems to have continued that momentum.

The tournament had such a big response a year ago that the host site, the Alexandria Golf Club, teamed up with the Geneva Golf Club in town to field additional flights. This year, tournament chairman Jerry Rose said the club had more than 600 entries the first day registration opened.

The Alexandria Golf Club can accommodate 448 players in the tournament. Additional flights in some divisions will also be playing at Geneva again this year.

“It’s going to be every bit as big as last year and actually a few more players over at Geneva it looks like,” Rose said. “We did a lot of things last year to try to make it a better event. We spent quite a bit more money on what I would call infrastructure stuff. Signage, decorations, a variety of things just to make it look more like a real tournament…I think the 100th really helped a lot because it generated a lot of excitement, but people are clamoring for things to do outside. It’s just been a combination of the 100th and golf continues to grow.”

It takes almost 125 volunteers to pull off a tournament this big.

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“We really couldn’t do it without them,” Rose said. “The (AGC) membership is super supportive. They know it’s kind of the flagship event for not only the club, but for the community because it’s bringing in so much tourist activity. People are more than willing to help.”

This year’s Resorters starts with the Pro-Am on July 30 with a 2 p.m. shotgun start at AGC. The first of two Men’s Championship qualifying rounds begins at 7 a.m. on July 31. Match play wraps up with the championship rounds at AGC on the afternoon of Aug. 6.

Similar to a year ago, tournament organizers have planned a number of extra events around the Resorters for players, but also to get members of the community more involved. A champions dinner will kick things off for former Resorters champions on Sunday night.

Jonny Mogambo Band out of Colorado is scheduled to play three nights on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the tournament. Those performances are open to the public.

“There will be specials on meals to get members and community members involved,” Rose said. “We’re doing a variety of things and hopefully leveraging some of the success we had last year.”

Alexandria area golf fans will have an opportunity to watch many familiar faces and plenty of college-level talent from around the country.

Braeden Sladek
Alexandria's Braeden Sladek hits out of the bunker on the back nine during his 2-up win over Kelly Brown of Marshalltown, Iowa in the Men's Division championship match at the Resorters Tournament on Aug. 7, 2021. Sladek won the men's championship at 16 years old last summer and is back for the 2022 tournament as part of another talented field in the Men's Championship Division. <br/>
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria’s Braeden Sladek, a senior in high school for the Cardinals this coming fall, is the defending champion in the Men’s Championship Division. Sladek won the tournament at age 16 in 2021, becoming what Rose believes is the youngest player to ever win the Men’s field.

Sladek beat former University of Nebraska-Omaha golfer Kelly Brown in last year’s championship match by a 2-up final. Sladek also beat former University of Minnesota and University of Texas golfer Donald Constable of Minnetonka in the semifinals on that same day. Constable, a former pro, shot an 11-under par 133 (67, 66) during his two days of qualifying leading into last year’s match-play portion of the Resorters.

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Sladek is believed to be the youngest Men's Division champion in the history of the Resorters as 10 total champions were crowned on Saturday during the 100th playing of this week-long event.

Sladek is back among the Men’s Championship field this year. He will play his college golf at the University of Kansas after committing to the Jayhawks this past March.

“The galleries last year in the semis and the finals were as big as they have been in a number of years,” Rose said. “I would credit that to the interest in coming out and seeing what Braeden is all about. Someone who is 16 years old having a chance to win the tournament. We’ve got so much talent around here on the high school women’s and men’s teams. It’s pretty spectacular to have this many good golfers come out of a small community like this.”

Brown joins Sladek in returning this summer as he tries to make another deep run. Many former Alexandria golfers make up the championship division, and former champions like, Jacques Wilson (2014), Jim Lehman (2009) and Rose (1979, 1983, 2000) are on the entry list around many others who have come close but are still searching for their first Men’s Championship Division title.

“We’ve got a lot of really good college players coming back again,” Rose said. “It seems like every year we’re getting more and more really good young players. It’s kind of a trend in golf. You look at the PGA Tour, there’s a lot more younger players under 30 that are performing really well. We’re seeing the same thing here with Sladek last year winning at 16 years old. We’ve got a whole plethora of young college kids coming this year to play in the event.”

Osakis' Alayna Eldred wins the Women's Championship Division title over Madison Herzog on Saturday for the first time since 2014. Eldred beat Herzog 5-4.

Rose said the Women’s Division is probably the best in terms of depth of talent that the field has had in years. Osakis native Alayna Eldred is the returning champion there after also winning the women’s title at just 14 years old in 2014.

Ale Heinen (2020 champion) of Wichita, Kansas, and Leah Herzog (2019 champion) of Red Wing are in this year’s field, along with last year’s runner-up, Madison Herzog of Detroit Lakes.

Story lines exist across all 10 divisions as many top amateur golfers return to Alexandria for the 101st playing of the Resorters.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s so different from when I grew up playing golf,” Rose said. “All these young guys hit it nine miles. They teach them how to generate speed now at a young age. You couldn’t really do that when I was growing up with the ball and the club that we played. It’s fun to watch what’s going on, and we got a lot of talent coming back this year.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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