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Teein' it up for a good cause

MEDORA--It may have been a cool and blustery day for golf, but that didn't stop more than 100 golfers from hitting the links for a good cause Friday morning in Medora.

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The 13th annual Rod Tjaden Memorial golf tournament, held at Bully Pulpit, is invitation only from which all proceeds go to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation employee scholarship fund. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)

MEDORA-It may have been a cool and blustery day for golf, but that didn't stop more than 100 golfers from hitting the links for a good cause Friday morning in Medora.

The 13th annual Rod Tjaden Memorial golf tournament, held at Bully Pulpit, is invitation only from which all proceeds go to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation employee scholarship fund.

The tournament started in 2004 to honor Rod Tjaden, a former TRMF president, who had passed away a few years earlier, said Randy Hatzenbuhler, president of the TRMF.

"Rod loved golf, he loved working with the young people that are out here, as do I," he said.

From there the idea was brought up to host a tournament at the then-fairly new course and that the proceeds should go to Tjaden's education fund. Hatzenbuhler said the tournament was an instant success.

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Hatzenbuhler said people love Medora and understand what the student workers provide to the town, so they want to return the favor.

"One, they love golf and two, they know that they're putting something toward a scholarship for some of the students," he said.

The foundation gives out nearly 30 scholarships each year that range from $1,000 to $1,500 each. All of the money raised during the golf tournament goes into a permanent endowment fund for the scholarships, currently there is around $500,000 in the fund, Hatzenbuhler said.

This year is the second time Brian Kroshus, the newest member of the Public Service Commission and former publisher of the Bismarck Tribune, has played in the tournament.

"It's just a great, great event in terms of honoring Rod and also I think it's a great example of collecting a lot of different people from different industries," Kroshus said. "They get together and obviously have some fun, but at the end of the day it's about raising some money for a very good cause."

Kroshus said the event highlights the town of Medora and its importance to the state of North Dakota.

"Medora is just one of these gems that we have in North Dakota," he said. "I think most people are aware of it but I don't think they always fully understand just how important it is, not only to the state's economy but we get to show off one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth."

Kathy Solga, the golf shop manager at Bully Pulpit, said the course team starts planning next year's tournament shortly after the current one wraps up. From there major planning continues from March all the way up to the day of the event.

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"There's lots of hours put into this," she said.

Casey Moen, the PGA professional for the course, said it is fun to see the same faces year after year, with new ones scattered throughout.

"It's a pretty tight-knit group of folks that we've seen over the years, so it's always a good time to see everybody again," he said.

This year the tournament was completely full with 32 teams of four golfers for the annual scramble-style tournament.

Kirsten Baesler, the North Dakota superintendent of public instruction, has played in the tournament for three years. She said events like the Rod Tjaden Memorial Golf tournament and the Congressional baseball game last week bring people together who might not always get the chance to just get to know each other.

"When you are gathering with people across party lines, across sectors of both private and public and nonprofit you're able to really get to know each other," she said. "(You) develop relationships, develop friendships that enhance the work that you do when you're actually in the Capital or in your office, working with the people that you're trying to serve in North Dakota."

The first year she was invited to play at the tournament, Baesler said she had very little experience playing golf, noting she was a below-amatuer player at the time, but she quickly figured out that didn't matter.

"I fell in love with the experience of golf, this event and of course with the Badlands and Bully Pulpit golf course," Baesler said.

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Baesler added that the tournament's cause is extra meaningful to her as superintendent of public instruction for the state.

"When I can be a part of (giving scholarships to students) and just have a chance to thank the individual golfers and the team sponsors who support that cause, at least they know the students are grateful and those that are in education are also grateful," Baesler said.

Related Topics: MEDORAKIRSTEN BAESLER
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