Lucky 13 for winner at CCC Invitational

 

July 14, 2023

Matthew Moses

Brian Moores sinks his putt on the par 3, hole No. 3 during the Cloquet Invitational.

In 2023, the Cloquet Country Club will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary since formation. Inaugurated in 1932, the Cloquet Invitational tournament just completed its 92nd annual event with Brian Moores of Duluth securing the coveted golf championship title. It was Moores' first invitational win in 13 tries. He defeated two-time past winner Alex Kolquist (2012 and 2020), by one stroke in the final group.

"I want to thank Bill Manahan [manager] and all his pro shop and clubhouse staff and Jud Crist [superintendent] and his green crew for making this such a special tournament. It was fantastic, I'll definitely be back to defend my title," said Moores in his post-round interview with WKLK radio celebrity Dwight Cadwell.

WKLK broadcast the final group's play-by-play live from a mobile unit in a golf cart.

Kolquist was leading by four strokes over Moores when they teed off together in the day's final Sunday afternoon group. Also competing in the last foursome were Joey Cummings and Cloquet teacher and boys' golf coach Aaron Young. Brian Moores tied with Spencer Heinrichs for top one-day medalist honors with a sparkling opening day score of 69.

A total of 183 golfers participated in the event. Cloquet's par is 71. Moore's three-day scores were 69, 73, and 73, for a total of 215, two over par. Alex Kolquist's three day scores were 71, 67, and 78, for a total of 216.

Championship flight golfers play the course from the farthest yardage, the blue tees, called "the tips." Sunday was a sunny, but blustery, afternoon. Winds were gusting 30-40 miles per hour. Scores, for the most part, were higher. It made Cloquet's No. 3 hole - a 233 yard, par 3 - a big challenge. Only one player in the last foursome hit the green in regulation with their first shot. The next hole - only a 140-yard par 3, but over an expansive gully - requires the ball to carry in the air the full distance. The wind made all players take a deep breath before hitting. Kolquist's ball, with a wind gust, flew into the gully and he scored a double bogey. Moores, to his credit, had only one double bogey all weekend.

Kolquist was still the leader heading into the final nine holes. Moores finally overtook him on hole No. 15. On the par 5 16th hole, Moores hit what he described as one of his finest clutch wedges of his summer to within 8 feet. He then sank the putt for a birdie. He had a two-stroke lead over Kolquist going into 17 and 18.

Top Cloquet finishers included Jimmy Stafford and Keegan Poppenberg (tied for fifth), Aaron Young (eighth), and Karson Patten (tied for ninth). The turf conditions were such that the players were required to play by "summer rules," which means there were very few bad lies in fairways.

"Lee Kolquist and Reed Kolquist, who have played at Cloquet for over 25 years, told me it was the best conditions they've ever seen for the course," superintendent Crist said proudly.

The Senior Championship flight winner was Shane Johnson. Other winners included Chad Demenge for first flight; Jim Lisignoli, second flight; third flight, Jordan Jensen; and fourth flight, Steve Lawrence. Tim Stolberg won the fifth flight.

In homage to past CCC member Butch Newby, a new sign on the No. 8 blue tee designated the spot as "Butch's tee." Newby was a well-known Cloquet lawyer and heralded golfer. In the 1960s, Butch was captain of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers golf team. Newby died in 2020, but is remembered as being instrumental in getting the new/additional nine holes built at Cloquet, opening in 2001. A new No. 7 hole/green and the redesigned No. 8 tee were part of that expansion.

Matthew Moses

Cloquet's Aaron Young hits out of the sand trap on hole No. 1 during the Cloquet Country Club Invitational Sunday.

Members of the 2021 Cloquet High School boys golf team, which won the Minnesota State High School Class AA golf tournament, continued their development by playing in this year's Invitational, and 2022 Invitational winner Sam Baker played, as did 2021 teammates Karson Patten, Trevor Steinert, Jacob Walsh and Brayden Tyman.

Other recent Lumberjacks players included Keegan Poppenberg and Anthony McKay. All competed well and scored solid rounds of golf.

Steinert and Baker are both working on the CCC grounds crew this summer. That required their getting to work by 5 a.m. and cutting greens, fairways, rough and tees for tourney players teeing off by 7:30 a.m. all three days. Then, they had to go and get their clubs and play in their own competition. It requires loving golf.

An hour after the tournament concluded, the skies opened up with a cloudburst with rain, wind, thunder and lightning. The course needed rain - it was a fitting end to the 92nd Cloquet Invitational.

 
 

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