Craig man defends title at Cottonwood Classic

More than 200 golfers were at the Yampa Valley Golf Course Thursday through Sunday for one of the largest tournaments that Craig sees the Cottonwood Classic.

Among the competitors gracing the local links, was last year's tournament champion, Preston Ivy of Craig.

At last year's Classic, Ivyshot an impressive 1-under-par to win the event, this year he shot an even par 216 over the four-day tournament, which was good enough to defend his title.

The next closest golfers to the reining-champion were three strokes behind. Doug Jones and Nathan Winn both shot a 219.

The Cottonwood Classic has been a golf mainstay at the Yampa Valley Golf Course for the past 34 years, and seems to be limitless in its ability to draw golfers.

Golfers from as far away a Virginia and California join forces with others from as close as Meeker and Steamboat Springs all shooting for a coveted top finish and monetary prizes.

According to Yampa Valley Golf Course assistant professional, Tom Dockstader, the tournament remains one of the largest in the area.

"A lot of the bigger-city people like to come to the tournament because of the scenery and the peaceful setting," he said. "Most hear about it from friends and relatives who live in the area, and they choose to travel out here to play."

Besides the visual appeal of sinking putts in front of the Bears Ears Peaks, the tournament is also one of the most affordable in the area. The entry fee for the classic is $100, which covers four days of golf, a steak dinner and the chance to earn a $450 payback.

The Classic is a stroke-play format, with golfers being divided into nine different flights, including the senior flight which is a new this year's tournament. A flight is a handicapping system which pits golfer against others with a similar skill level.

This year's Classic found an increase in the number of participants in the lower flights, which indicates a raise in the caliber of the tournament's players.

"Each year, the competition has been getting harder," Dockstader said, "if you consider that the championship flight was a 0 to 4 handicap this year, when it's normally from even par to 6 over."

Success at the Classic usually comes down to who's the most consistent golfer, Dockstader said. The course itself doesn't present too great of a challenge, except for greens, which tend to be fast.

A steady golfer, according to Dockstader, is one who uses good course management, and has the tendency to land their shots where they want them.

"For the most part in the top flights you'll almost never see a bad shot," he said. "The golfer a putting the ball where they want it 90 percent of the time, but that can be said for most top flights."

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