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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 02 2013

F-M golfers fitting in with Fighting Artichokes

FARGO – The college golf bags of Ben Welle, Bobby Reuter and Jack Elliott are like any other university player, with the following exception: the nickname gets more than a few looks.

The Fighting Artichokes.

And that’s no joke. The three Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College players from Fargo and Moorhead just completed their seasons with the kind of success that is no joke, either. Welle, in fact, walked on to the team last fall and played his way to Division I junior college All-American status.

So did Reuter, who took a year off of school before joining the Fighting Artichokes.

“Everybody questions our logo down there,” said Welle, a Moorhead High graduate. “The story behind it is students actually voted for the mascot as a joke and then it actually stuck.”

The story behind Welle is he thought about playing at North Dakota State. But after listening to Village Green head professional Russ Nelson talk about his nephew going to Scottsdale, Welle thought further about that option.

So he contacted Scottsdale head coach Dan Dersam and the process of moving south began. He made the team through a three-round tryout finishing in the top three.

The courses have been challenging. The area has been enjoyable. And getting away from home had its benefits, too.

“I found out a little bit of who I was,” Welle said. “It was good for me.”

Reuter took a little longer to find his Artichoke calling. A 2010 Fargo South graduate, he dabbled at NDSU for two years, making the team the second season. But academic difficulties kept him from getting anything further out of it, so he took the spring of 2011 off. He’s in his second year at Scottsdale, but first eligibility wise.

Elliott, also from South, just finished his sophomore season and played in a couple of tournaments.

“Just playing college golf is a great experience,” Reuter said. “It’s been great just being part of a team again. It’s the first time since high school.”

His next stop is uncertain, he said. He may graduate in December, go for another shot at NDSU next spring semester.

Both players say the warmer climate has helped their games just playing more often.

“I knew my game was going to get better but I didn’t think it would improve this much,” Welle said. “Yeah, I did surprise myself.”

Welle will return for his sophomore season, with plans this summer to play in qualifiers for the Minnesota State Open and the Minnesota State Amateur, plus a few local tournaments.

The Artichokes finished third at the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament. Welle and Reuter led the way.

“We knew we could do some damage and we did,” Welle said.

The Fighting Artichokes, well, were fighters.

“It’s a unique one, that’s for sure,” Reuter said of the nickname. “It’s probably not the one I would pick, but that’s who we are. We get a lot of looks with it. Fighting Artichokes? Really?”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia