Golf

Inaugural Tacoma Open set to tee off

Everyone wants a piece of the 2015 U.S. Open mojo.

And that includes Metro Parks officials, who are banking that the inception of another professional golf tournament — the Tacoma Open — will take off and flourish.

The inaugural Tacoma Open will take place from Sept. 19-21 at Meadow Park Golf Course.

The professionals will play for first place and $10,000. But amateur golfers have a place in this tournament, too.

“This event … we want to run for the next 20 years,” said Chris Goodman, the superintendent at Meadow Park who has been a key organizer of the tournament.

“We have a slightly different take on it for amateurs — it is not a pro-am, rather it is a professional tournament that amateurs can play in. You are relying on your own ball. The pro is not helping.”

And the tournament got a big boost last week when PGA Tour player Michael Putnam of University Place committed to play in the event.

“One, I want to support the tournament — the (Metro Parks) division and those guys,” Putnam said. “But I also want to support mini-tour golf, and hopefully help create a buzz to attract sponsors so we can get this tournament going for years to come.”

Back in the 1990s, Jason Follen and Ryan Welborn — the co-owners of Foley’s on the Green, the restaurant at Meadow Park — went up and down the West Coast playing mini-tour events.

They played a lot in California. They drove to Arizona. They even made a trek to Kansas.

“When I was playing, if someone said ‘$10,000 to the winner,’ Ryan and I would jump in the car and go,” said Follen, a Wilson High School graduate.

When the two of them purchased the restaurant early in 2013, they brought along the grandiose idea of starting an open professional tournament in Tacoma.

“Our hearts have always been with those mini-tour players,” Follen said.

Besides Putnam, the field is loaded with accomplished Northwest professionals, including reigning Washington Open Invitational winner John Cassidy; Oregon Open champion Derek Barron; former Washington and Oregon Open winner Brian Thornton; and a trio of touring professionals — Mark Wurtz (former PGA Tour player). T.J. Bordeaux (Canadian Tour) and Andrew Yun (Gateway Tour).

But as Goodman points out, next week’s tournament should only set the table for what is expected to be a bigger event next summer.

Goodman said there are plans to host a skins game at Meadow Park with four of the local PGA Tour players — Putnam, younger brother Andrew Putnam, Andres Gonzales and Troy Kelly.

Also, the course will be open the week of the U.S. Open for viewing parties.

“They are aware golf is down locally, nationally and so they are viewing this as a community event — a local shot in the arm to our community,” Goodman said.

The deadline to register for next week’s tournament is Monday, either through the pro shop at Meadow Park, or online at www.metroparkstacoma.org/

meadow-park-golf-course.

  Comments