Cloquet Golf Invite a success...in spite of Mother NatureMonday afternoon was so cold that golfers in the ninth annual Cloquet Invitational wore winter caps, choppers and carried hand warmers used for the late fall hunting season.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – Monday afternoon was so cold that golfers in the ninth annual Cloquet Invitational wore winter caps, choppers and carried hand warmers used for the late fall hunting season.
It was so cold that a thin layer of ice covered the tops of standing water scattered around the Cloquet Country Club. So cold that some golfers didn’t focus on scores, but rather just on staying warm.
“It was colder at the course today than the Proctor Ice Arena in January,” laughed Cloquet senior Jack McFarlane. “Today was one of those days you’d rather be at school than playing. I wasn’t worried about hitting the ball. I was worried about being able to feel my hands
“I believe it was 28 degrees when the kids teed off,” said Jack’s father and Cloquet boys golf coach Tom McFarlane of the 10 a.m. start. “It was cold.”
Fighting brisk temperatures more common in March than in May, along with blustery winds and occasional snow flurries, the Invite went on.
It ran as smoothly as ever.
Braving the elements were 12 area schools. Joining the Lumberjacks were local foes Esko-Carlton and Moose Lake-Willow River, along with Ashland, Duluth Central, Duluth East, Duluth Marshall, Greenway, Hermantown Blue, Hermantown Gold, Proctor and Superior. Roughly 70 kids played the 18-hole course for around four frigid hours.
“It’s a great event,” said Tom McFarlane. “We started it a while ago.”
For the record, the now well-known Cloquet Invite began in 2003 and has continued to draw interest from the best. The event is organized by CCC members Matt Carlson, Wally Johnson and club golf professional Bill Manahan.
“Those guys do a great job,” McFarlane continued. “They really do.”
In addition to playing golf, however, there are other perks to the day. After playing the championship links, golfers are given a meal courtesy of the CCC and, while they chow down, medals and trophies are awarded to the winners.
“It’s one of the few events where the kids get something to eat afterward,” McFarlane said. “Those three who help put it together make it look real easy.”
Monday, Coney dogs were served, along with chips, cookies and pop for the golfers. Hermantown Blue was awarded the team champion medals with their 302 net score, while the Hawks had the top three medalists as well.
Hermantown was 39 strokes ahead of the field, with Cloquet placing second.
“Hermantown really has it going,” McFarlane said. “They’re tough.”
Yet, McFarlane was pleased with his boys’ efforts as well. Senior captain Andrew Castle paced the Lumberjacks’ net 341 score with an 81, while junior Eric Fryc posted an 83. Jack McFarlane rounded out the top three, firing an 85.
“We played better in the cold Monday than any time we played last week,” Tom McFarlane said. “But I’m still a little frustrated. A lot of these guys have been playing golf for awhile, some even since seventh grade. We need to be smarter on the golf course at times. We’re hammering away at it, and our focus is just to get our scoring average down.”
Although most scores were a little higher than the norm Monday, other schools excelled in the harsh weather, like Esko-Carlton.
Having a few meets under their belts thus far, the Eskomos posted their top team score Monday with a 356, good for third place behind Cloquet. The finish was an impressive one, according to Coach Dave Haugen.
“I coached golf in Iowa before and I never thought I’d coach in snow flurries,” he laughed, “but that was 10 strokes better than we have shot yet this season. There was a nice cross-section of teams there and we played well.”
Freshman Kory Deadrick shot a career-best 84 to pace Esko-Carlton.
“I made a couple rounds of the course and it was cold,” Haugen continued, “but Kory had a nice day. That’s a tough course and tough conditions to play in.”
Moose Lake-Willow River coach Steve Mokros is a member at the CCC. He played Sunday night when it was about 30 degrees with 30 mile per hour winds howling across the fairways, greens and tee boxes.
“I walked out there a couple times Monday and that’s probably the coldest meet I’ve ever been at,” laughed Mokros. “But I love that course.”
And although his players weren’t too familiar with it, they placed fifth with a net score of 363. Gabe Douglas, Stephen Gassert and Grant Douglas led the way with rounds of 89, 90 and 91.
“That was the first time some of them have played it,” said Mokros. “It usually takes a few times to get used to a course, but they did well. And there wasn’t one complaint. They just played and didn’t care about the weather.”
Easier said than done.