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Final days of golf bring some reflection


November 27, 2020

The return of 70-degree days during the first week of November was a real blessing for many golfers. Although they had moved the parkas and snowblowers to the front of the garage after 6 inches of snow on Nov. 11 and again on Nov. 15, the shorts and golf clubs were pulled out of storage for one last hurrah. It was terrific.

In reviewing the 2020 season, try to think of a sport that is the focal point or backdrop to nonprofit organizations, charity events and community causes, both financially and socially/spiritually, other than golf. I couldn’t think of another sport that is even close in hosting and supporting these important efforts.

Facing the 2020 pandemic, many innovative organizers were still able to conduct their annual golf events in a safe manner for participants, volunteers and workers.

In April, May, and June, with the uncertainty of the pandemic, indeed many golf fundraisers had to be canceled. State shutdown orders in April allowed golf course maintenance workers to return to work and ensure the upkeep of “critical turf.” In May, golf courses could open with several caveats, including staggered tee times, one-person cart riding and the special cleaning of carts and more. Golf, just by its nature, makes social distancing possible and encourages walking. With many other forms of exercise slowing down or not available, golf in Minnesota, and local courses as well, saw an uptick in rounds played.

With clubhouses closed or allowing only minimum numbers of patrons, revenues were curtailed. Carlton County and other golf course links had to come up with innovative means of serving their customers.

Thank goodness, this summer was relatively dry and mild, warm in fact, and mostly mosquito- and bug-free. Both made for ideal conditions for serving thirsty and hungry golf enthusiasts outside.

Fundraising efforts included Harold’s Golf Fiasco, the Reach Mentoring event, the Ameriprise-Cloquet Educational Foundation event, the Moose cancer fundraiser, and several other scrambles or tourneys.

Reach Mentoring executive director Dakota Koski said they had to delay their annual fundraiser until September and change the venue, moving back to the Cloquet Country Club after being at the Black Bear, which has been closed. “It is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and this year’s event, even with Covid/pandemic issues, was our most successful ever,” Dakota said.

“The demands of our organization and the requirements to be innovative and adaptive are changing almost daily,” he said. “Distance learning puts extra stress on some students, and in turn, our staff. There is an increased need for more resources for these kids.”

Dakota said when he approached Cloquet and Carlton County event sponsors, he asked them to consider donating at a “higher” level. Even when facing their own worksite and industry pandemic issues, most were able to increase their level of giving. “All of our mentoring, leadership, and positive mental health events,” said Dakota, “are free for kids … and include food. This is just great.”

Harold’s Fiasco is just an amazing golf event. Established by Carlton businessman Harold Ankrum of Harold’s Service, this fundraiser for the St. Jude Children’s cancer research hospital in Tennessee has continued to be very successful and noteworthy. More than $20,000 was raised in 2020 by the 263 participants. It takes a small army of volunteers to pull something like this off and a lot of time and planning. Of course, most of the revenue is not generated from green fees, but rather, raffle tickets for door prize donations and hole sponsorships.

Cloquet Educational Foundation director Jodi Acers said “a lot of questions and assurances regarding participant and player safety had to be answered before we were comfortable conducting the event.”

The clubhouse was off limits. They lucked out and had a perfect day weatherwise. Food and beverages and the prize awards were all outside. “The financial support is important, but especially this year, the friendships and partnerships witnessed of those playing, all supporting education, was equally as thrilling. People wanted a chance to get out and say hi to their friends and neighbors.”

Most golfers at these events are members of clubs, and could play golf “for free.” Many pay the fundraiser entry fee and play in multiple events all summer long around Carlton County. For some, fundraiser events may be participants’ once-a-year “cause” and the only chance they may have to play golf all summer.

The local businesses and individuals that contribute to these events are critical. We are fortunate in Carlton County to have such philanthropic owners and leaders who recognize these community needs and support them. Thank you. And thank you to all golfers who took part or helped to organize and plan a 2020 golf fundraising event. Generosity is more important than ever.

Steve Korby welcomes human interest stories and tales about Carlton County residents, projects, history, and plans. Email [email protected]


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