Craig hopes to take Yampa Cup back from Steamboat in 2013

— The best golfers the Yampa Valley has to offer will renew their rivalry this weekend, as players from Craig take on their counterparts from Steamboat to battle for the Yampa Cup.

The Yampa Cup competition features two days of play at Yampa Valley Golf Course and then the Steamboat Golf Club for the coveted bear trophy, which both groups plan on bringing back to their respective golf clubs when it's all said and done.

It doesn’t pay out like many other tournaments held in Craig throughout the summer, but the Yampa Cup is taken as seriously as any other golf tournament in the area because it’s for bragging rights.

“Absolutely, it’s a rivalry,” said Bud Bower, a board member at Yampa Valley Golf Course and multiple-time Yampa Cup player. “During the year, you play against those guys in tournaments around Craig. They come down for some of ours, and we go up for some of theirs. It gets to be grudge-type matches where this guy beat me last year, so I’m looking to beat him this year.”

With many club members from the two towns working at the same places or crossing paths elsewhere in the Yampa Valley, beating the other town becomes a pretty big deal. David Hardison, the head golf pro at Yampa Valley Golf Course, is in just his first year as the pro in Craig but said he started hearing about the Yampa Cup right away.

“It’s been talked about since we opened — all summer long,” Hardison said. “Donna (his wife) and I went up there at the beginning of the summer, and we saw the bear up there. I knew what it was right away.”

The Yampa Cup will feature 28 golfers each from each club. They play at Yampa Valley Golf Course on Saturday, with seven teams of two from each club playing a scramble and the other seven teams of two playing a best-ball format. On Sunday, the play is straight up in Steamboat, playing from the white tees the first nine holes and blue tees the second nine on the nine-hole course.

The tournament plays like the Ryder Cup of professional golf, with a club earning a point for each team that wins its match. The team with the most points in the end wins.

Craig lost the bear to Steamboat last year after holding onto it from 2006 to 2011. Before that, Steamboat had won from 2001 to 2005, so the players from Yampa Valley Golf Course are looking to break the trend of lengthy winning streaks.

“We take it personal,” Bower said. “We want that bear back on our trophy case out there in Craig. We want the shot glasses," an additional award for the champions this year.

Some of Yampa Valley’s best golfers will try to help bring the bear back to Craig this year, including club champion Dan Brown, winner of the Men’s Club match play, Tim Boyle and others typically near the top of the leaderboard at tournaments.

“I was looking at the list, and we have our A-B-C-D players, and there’s a lot of guys that play competitive golf,” Bower said. “They know how to grind. We want that bear to be hibernating in Craig this year.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.

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