La PORTE — In the last six years, since the annual La Porte City Golf Tournament was moved exclusively to Beechwood Golf Course, participation has increased.
This weekend, there are 48 competitors set to participate in the event, sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, with 40 in the Men’s Division and eight in the Senior Division (ages 60 and older).
“It’s really gratifying to see the participation get back up to tournament golf,” Beechwood Head Golf Pro Kyle Cashmer said. “We’re starting to see lower qualifying scores every year. This year, it looks like our championship flight scoring range will be anywhere from 72 to 76. When it was lower numbers, our championship scoring range was anywhere from like 74 to 81. So it’s tighter now.”
The tournament is a three-round, match-play competition that runs Friday through Sunday with tee off beginning at 11 a.m. each day. The field is cut in half for Saturday, and then again for Sunday. All six matches on Sunday will be championships.
The defending overall champion is Matt Noll, who earned his second straight title last August, winning the event by beating Dave Gorecki 6 and 5 in the Championship Flight of the match-play finals.
Noll didn’t have to qualify this year as defending champion and is automatically the No. 1 seed in the Championship Flight.
This year, several competitors will vie to dethrone Noll.
Tom Wells has the low qualifying score so far with an even-par 72. Two-time winner Brandon Thomas carded a 73, while last year’s runner-up, CJ Kowalski, posted a 74.
The overall winner of the tournament, or the winner of the Championship Flight, earns a Crystal Claret Jug Trophy, in addition to a $300 gift certificate.
The runner-up of the Championship Flight receives a $200 gift certificate, while the winner of each flight earns a $225 gift certificate and the runner-up a $125 gift certificate. The Senior Division winner claims a $175 gift certificate, while the Senior Division runner-up nets a $100 gift certificate. The payouts are based on a full 48-player field.
Cashmer said the payouts are made possible thanks to the sponsorship of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, meaning 100 percent of the $65 entry fee goes toward the prize pool and Sunday banquet.
The primary ages of the golfers who compete in this event are wide ranging. The Men’s Division spans from roughly 22- to 50-year-olds. In the Senior Division, most of the golfers are in their 60s.
In the end, Cashmer believes the best part about the City Golf Tournament are the players contending with each other and the camaraderie.
“It’s heavy competition, but you don’t see any arguments or anything,” he said. “Everyone is very friendly to each other. It’s just friendly competition. To see grown adults get those butterflies and get nervous on the first tee, it’s a unique experience for people who haven’t played competitive sports in quite some time. That’s the most fun, to see those nerves on the first tee, and then, see it all finish up on the last couple of holes.”