TRGA opens on Saturday

Written by Bob Lamb – www.boblamboutdoors.com

The Three Rivers Golf Association, recognized as one of the strongest tournament organizations in Wisconsin, begins its 16th year on Saturday at Fox Hollow Golf Course in Barre Mills.

Granted, spring hasn't been favorable for golfers to get the kinks out of their swings, but hopefully, sunny skies will grace the 18-hole Fox Hollow course on Saturday. And a large field is ready to test the scenic layout.

TRGA officials, as well as players are anxious for another season featuring top-notch tournaments at several of the Coulee Region's finest golf courses.

"Earlier this spring, all the facilities were invited to an informal meeting. It was to welcome the new operators in the association and to let them know about the TRGA," said TRGA president Bill MacAskill,PGA professional at The Bridges Golf Club in Winona, Minn.

"In addition to having Margaret Olsen on site doing everything she does for all of us, the gathering focused on having all TRGA tournaments run consistently from event to event," MacAskill said. "The owners/operators of the events are committed to bringing the very best experience to each TRGAevent. They are eager to get to know our players and community sponsors. Best of luck. Have a great 2011 season."

Olsen, nicknamed, "Squib," begins her 11th year as executive director of the TRGA. And, true to her previous 10 years, Olsen is anxious for Saturday's tourney opener.

"There are 10 courses in the association again this year. Of them, three facilities are under new management," Olsen said. "So, our first goal is for people to get to know each other before the season begins, and to see themselves as a team of courses offering 10 consistent tournament venues for golfers in our region. With that spirit, we hope to do the same for our juniors tournaments and to support other exciting juniors events that will be hosted in our area this year."

The TRGAis also placing extra emphasis on player recruitment in 2011.

"Thanks to a wonderful gesture from The Bridges in Winona and The La Crosse Country Club in Onalaska, many of our college players will have the opportunity to participate in the season championships," Olsen said.

"Both facilities offered to move up the dates of the championships to late August. In the past, the two-day season finale was scheduled after Labor Day, which left student golfers returning to school before the championships were played," she said.

"Now, it will be possible for them to contend for Player of the Year honors. And those familiar veteran players in the TRGA are excited to take on the youngsters at the end of the season when all the pressure is on, Olsen said. "As one who has known some players as junior golfers since the age of eight, I'm especially grateful to The Bridges and the La Crosse Country Club that college players will be able to participate."

The TRGA also plans to make speed of play more of a priority this season.

"We're making progress, thanks to increased awareness and cooperation from our players," Olsen said. "From 2009 to 2010, we improved our overall average pace of play by 14 minutes. That's huge. Based on the time the last group of the day finishes the round, we averaged 4 hours, 34 minutes in 2010."

Olsen said this year's goal is to get a field of 100-plus golfers into the clubhouse in less than 4 hours, 30 minutes per group.

"And it's an achievable goal to reach that magical number of 4 hours, 15 minutes average for an entire season," she said.

"Rest assured, the TRGA is on track for yet another great season of competitive, first quality events at all of our locations," Olsen said. "Be hopeful for great weather, but at the same time prepare for the challenges that Mother Nature can provide. Either way, it will be great golf at great venues."