Lifetime sport: Yampa Valley Golf Course’s Cottonwood Classic celebrates 50 years, devoted players | CraigDailyPress.com

Lifetime sport: Yampa Valley Golf Course’s Cottonwood Classic celebrates 50 years, devoted players

Some were there for its first year, others were decades away from being born, but they all came together this weekend for the Cottonwood Classic.

The signature event for Yampa Valley Golf Course celebrated its 50th anniversary as 96 players hit the links of the Craig locale.

Winning the overall event was Rifle's Teig Hauer with a three-day total of 222 including a second-day 71. Tying for second place at 228 each were Cory Nolan and Cole Manuppella.

Winning the first flight as well as the senior division was Roland Gauthier at 233, with Butch Behrman, Chuck Webb and Craig Madsen taking the second, third and fourth flights in gross score.

Among the ranks was Craig's own Deems Utzinger, who has not missed a Cottonwood yet and did not intend to stop his streak now. Five solid decades of swinging in the tournament began in 1968 when YVGC was still a nine-hole course and Utzinger was all of 21 years old, having spent much of his previous summers on the groundskeeping staff of the property.

In that time, the game has changed, to say the least.

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"My game has, anyway," he laughed.

Utzinger has taken a slew of second-, third- and fourth-place honors over the years, though a win has always eluded him apart from a tie for first, which resulted in a playoff round loss.

Though he has the most total Cottonwood tourneys under his belt and a perfect attendance record, Utzinger is quick to sing the praises of others who have turned out for multiple years, including compiling a chart of the winners since the inception, though a few holes remain.

Many names appear repeatedly, including Steve Fry, who notched nine wins in the tourney ranging from 1974 to 1994. Also a recurring moniker is Greg Hamilton, who has won within his flight on seven occasions, playing in the Cottonwood this year for the 45th time.

Utzinger received a trophy for his 50th tournament and those with 40-plus years also got a plaque, including Hamilton, George Angelo, Darrel Irvin, Larry Seip and Doug Toole.

Other golfers in the field were playing YVGC for the very first time.

Eagle's Jud Shoup came up to Craig with a large group of friends who had previously played in the tournament and convinced him to join.

"They said what a great time it was, so I didn't want to miss out," he said.

Shoup said he had an excellent opening day but faced a challenge in one part of his game.

"The greens are so difficult," he said. "Steep and difficult, and I guess they're a little softer this year. I heard they were super-hard last year."

Grand Junction's Carson Kerr likewise noted the greens provided a worthy foe.

"A lot of tough holes and pin placements," he said after wrapping up his round Saturday.

At 14, Kerr was the youngest in the field of golfers and played alongside the championship flight.

Course professional Bob Mueller said a variety of ages was a boon to the tournament, which has to compete with many summer activities.

"Lotta weddings this year," he said. "Lot of injuries, too."

A turnout of 96 is on the small side for Utzinger and Hamilton, who have seen well over 200 players in the Cottonwood's biggest years.

Nevertheless, the appeal of YVGC is what keeps them returning.

"Play is down all over the country, but thank God we have a course that's still in this good of shape," Hamilton said. "It's really a credit to everybody that's been involved with it."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

50th annual Cottonwood Classic results

Championship Flight

Place — Golfer: Day 1, 2, 3, Gross/Net Total

Gross

First — Teig Hauer: 73, 71, 78; 222

Second/Third — Cory Nolan: 79, 72, 77; 228

Second/Third — Cole Manuppella: 73, 79, 76; 228

Net

First — Marc Caldwell: 69.3, 71.3, 67.3; 207.9

Second — Daniel Brown: 71.5, 67.5, 71.5; 210.5

Third — Mike Moser: 73.1, 74.1, 66.1; 213.3

First Flight

Gross scores only

First — Roland Gauthier: 80, 76, 77; 233

Second — Mark Fischer: 80, 78, 76; 234

Third — Greg Hamilton: 82, 77, 77; 236

Fourth — Jeff Hauer: 82, 80, 75; 237

Fifth — Lowell Pearson: 80, 80, 78; 238

Sixth — Isaiah Mallory: 80, 75, 84; 239

Second Flight

Gross scores only

First — Butch Behrman: 87, 86, 83; 256

Second — Trini Loya: 90, 81, 86; 257

Third/Fourth — Bud Bower: 88, 90, 80; 258

Third/Fourth — Mike Main: 88, 85, 85; 258

Fifth — Rich Wooley: 92, 85, 82; 259

Sixth/Seventh — Lou Hahn: 88, 83, 90; 261

Sixth/Seventh — Brandon Zimmerman: 85, 83, 93; 261

Third Flight

Gross scores only

First — Chuck Webb: 86, 81, 87; 254

Second — Mitch Carter: 84, 85, 86; 255

Third — Jeff Nelson: 91, 81, 84; 256

Fourth — Tim Roe: 85, 85, 88; 258

Fifth — Doug Toole: 91, 86, 83; 260

Sixth — Chris Manera: 88, 88, 87; 263

Fourth Flight

Gross

First — Craig Madsen: 87, 94, 97; 278

Second — Kevin Haskins: 95, 96, 91; 282

Third — Red Woolley: 99, 95, 90; 284

Net

First — Jud Shoup: 65.6, 77.6, 65.6; 208.8

Second — Andrew Zimmerman: 72, 74, 68; 214

Third — Doug Larson: 80.3, 68.3, 69.3; 217.9

Seniors First Flight

Gross

First — Roland Gauthier: 80, 76, 77; 233

Second — Doug Jones: 81, 75, 80; 236

Third — Joe Elliott: 77, 79, 81; 237

Net

First — Mark Fischer: 70.1, 66.8, 66.8; 204.3

Second — Greg Hamilton: 71.8, 66.8, 66.8; 205.4

Third — Jeff Hauer: 72.4, 70.4, 65.4; 208.2

Seniors Second Flight

Gross

First — Butch Behrman: 87, 86, 83; 256

Second — Bud Bower: 88, 90, 80; 258

Third — Rich Woolley: 92, 85, 82; 259

Net

First — Tim Roe: 69.9, 69.9, 72.9; 212.7

Second— Doug Toole: 75.7, 70.7, 67.7; 214.1

Third — Rory Main: 71.6, 67.6, 78.6; 217.8

Seniors Third Flight

Gross

First — Jeff Nelson: 91, 81, 84; 256

Second — Chris Manera: 88, 88, 87; 263

Third — Craig Madsen: 87, 94, 97; 278

Net

First — Dan Moore: 67.4, 69.4, 71.4; 208.2

Second — Andrew Zimmerman: 72, 74, 68; 214

Third — Doug Larson: 80.3, 68.3, 69.3; 217.9