Dan Brown putts for the hole Friday afternoon on the seventh hole at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. Brown, the defending club champ, and 64 other golfers will begin competition today for the 2012 club championship.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Dan Brown putts for the hole Friday afternoon on the seventh hole at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. Brown, the defending club champ, and 64 other golfers will begin competition today for the 2012 club championship.

Weekend warriors: Club championship tourney starts today Yampa Valley Golf Course

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Quotable

“They definitely take it seriously, but they have a good time as well. This is just basically a tournament for our club members, a fun little event. It gives them a chance to see who the best golfer in Craig is.”

—Jason Back, golf pro at Yampa Valley Golf Course, about this weekend’s club championship tournament.

The painful proof was there but Dan Brown verbalized it anyway.

The avid Craig golfer plopped his 100-yard approach shot on the sixth green at Yampa Valley Golf Course nearly right on top of the hole and it only rolled a few feet away.

Then, with a groan, he missed the putt.

When he again came up just shy on the seventh, leaving the ball hanging on the rim, he tapped in, then reset everything, working the putt one last time.

“For me,” he said, “it’s always about putting.”

Brown was on his game a year ago, playing what he said was clean, mistake-free golf while winning the club championship at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. He said he’ll need to find that same rhythm if he’s to manage the repeat and retain that oh-so-sweet title, “Craig’s best golfer.”

Brown and 64 other men and women will tee off for the two-day club championship tournament starting today with rounds whenever they can squeeze them in. The entire field will return at 8:30 a.m. Sunday for a shotgun start.

The weekend is sure to leave Craig’s top contenders sweating the details on the greens — they’re running fast this year, Brown said — and hoping for distance off the tee.

“They definitely take it seriously,” course golf pro Jason Back said, “but they have a good time as well.

“This is just basically a tournament for our club members, a fun little event. It gives them a chance to see who the best golfer in Craig is.”

Both Brown, the men’s defending champ, and Susan Nicholson, the women’s 2011 winner, will return to defend their titles.

Back said a fat prize pool awaits, one made sweet by $2,000 in cash and prizes donated by Yampa Valley Bank. That, along with the all-important titles, will be doled out to Craig’s best man and best woman golfer, as well as the most improved man and most improved woman.

The tournament rounds out the club’s summer schedule, though Back said several tournaments remain in the more than two months the course plans to remain open.

“This is always a big tournament for them,” Back said. “We’ll have more tournaments to finish out the year, but this one is for them.”

Still, he said it’s a fine time to reflect on what a nerve-wracking but good summer it’s been.

Golf course managers sweated their way through the region’s spring and summer drought, keeping a wary eye on the waning Yampa River while plotting a course of action if the continued dry spell forced drastic changes to watering schedules.

“It made us real nervous,” Back said. “We had a mild winter and there wasn’t a lot of moisture in the high country. The river was draining and that’s where we get all of our water. We were talking about what parts of the course we would continue to water.”

July rains set everyone at ease, ensuring an emerald green course this weekend for the 65 golfers set to narrow their eyes and battle it out with friends, fighting to become Craig’s best.

“It’s important, but I’d just like to shoot a good score,” Brown said. “It’s fun because at this point we are all friends out here, anyway. That’s what I like about this tournament more than anything.”

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