FARGO — The sight of a couple of high school seniors walking around the Fargo Country Club carrying their team bags tugged at FCC head professional Mark Johnson. Their final year of competition was hanging in the balance with the distinct possibility of it never happening because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Dakota High School Activities Association on Friday, May 1, canceled all spring season competitions, so Johnson and the FCC have a plan for the prep golfers: They want to host a one-day tournament on June 8 for graduating seniors.
“We see it as a way to give back to those kids in the community and the whole state who not only haven’t had a chance to compete but to experience the Fargo Country Club,” Johnson said. “Maybe put a little bookend on their crazy high school career.”
The tournament was contingent on the season being halted, which the NDHSAA did on Friday.
“I hope they have their season, if there is some way kids can have their season, we’re all for that,” Johnson said earlier last week. “If the kids lose their seasons, we’re prepared to move forward.”
The FCC’s Board of Directors gave unanimous approval to the tourney. Johnson said it was a quick decision.
The stroke play format would be unique in that it would be a rare combination of Class A and Class B boys in the same field. The Class B girls would have their division. Class B boys plays its season in the fall.
Johnson said he’s been in touch with a few coaches, who have given a thumbs-up to the idea. Tourney invites would be done through high school coaches with the FCC providing online registration.
There is no formal name for the event yet, but that will come now that the NDHSAA made its decision. The tourney would be played under whatever pandemic guidelines are in place in early June.
“We’re not going to push the envelope with anything like that,” Johnson said. “We’ll run this event with the proper protocol.”
Johnson has a personal investment in high school golf: His father, Don Johnson, was a long-time coach at Fargo Shanley and both his son and daughter played at Shanley.
“We see the value of participation in athletics no matter what level,” Mark Johnson said. “The members and the board of directors agreed; if it’s just a small way to give them a finish to their season, we’re happy to do it.”