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By Jeff Kolpack, Published July 22 2009

Appeal to masses: Pine to Palm’s Mid-Am hopes to interest older players

The ages don’t lie. The Pine to Palm Golf Tournament in Detroit Lakes, Minn., has been a young man’s game in recent years.

Most of the champions in the last decade have either been in college or recently finished their eligibility. Last year’s winner, Ben Freeman, will be a junior at Drake University (Iowa) this fall.

So in an effort to keep some of the top thirty- and fortysomething golfers coming back, the tournament has instituted a Mid-Am division. It’s open to players 35 years and older.

“I think we have some people who have played for a number of years and can qualify but probably can’t last too long in the tournament,” said Bob Gorden, the Pine to Palm tournament chairman. “And some of the players 40 to 55 years old don’t want to play flights or will be mismatched in flights – so they don’t want to be here. That was the driving force.”

Gorden said at least 75 percent of the championship flight golfers are 25 years old or younger. Some of the better players who are a decade older have told Gorden they’ll return to the Pine when they qualify for the senior division at the minimum age of 55.

Because the tournament – set for Aug. 10-16 at the Detroit Country Club – is full each year, adding the division does not come without subtraction. The tournament dropped the Melissa flight, but will still have the Pine, Palm and Sallie flights.

And it’s not always easy convincing committee members to change a tournament format that is already successful, Gorden said.

The Mid-Am will consist of a 16-player match play field with a two-day qualifier.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do and now we’ll be watching how it’s going to work,” Gorden said.

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia