If you can concentrate on your game, you’ll likely fare well upon yelling “Fore!”
But good luck with that: given the craggy, 14,000-foot Sneffels Range looming before you, focusing on a golf ball can be challenging at this place.
The 18-hole course at the Divide Ranch & Club, above Ridgway, has been described as the most scenic golf course in the U.S. On Sept. 8, a tournament beloved by locals returns: the Ridgway Chamber Open, a fundraiser for local youth programs, with a 1 p.m. shotgun start, to be followed by a 5 p.m. barbecue celebration dinner.
The course offers 7,039 yards of golf “from the longest tees for a par of 72,” according to GolfColorado.com. Its “rating is 71.8, and it has a slope rating of 128. Designed by Brian Coker,” the course, originally dubbed Fairway Pines, opened in 1993.
A blizzard of golf stats — and yet none of them ultimately matter. What “counts” on these greens is the green that will be raised to benefit the Voyager Youth Program, and the local Little League.
The tournament is beloved: “It’s something that people always looked forward to, and then the pandemic came and changed everything,” said Adam Dubroff, president of the Ridgway Chamber. The last time the tournament was held in 2019. “It helps if you like to play golf,” Dubroff said dryly, “but this is really to benefit local youth groups. We’ll have a best ball scramble format, meaning you put together a team of four, and whoever hits the best drive, everyone’s able to move their balls to where that drive is, and you play from there. It’s a team game, and a lot of fun.”
Those who choose to compete, and enjoy a subsequent barbecue meal at the clubhouse following the game, will have the satisfaction of assisting local Little Leaguers and Voyager Youth, which Dubroff called “the premiere afterschool program for kids in Ouray County.”
Exactly how Voyager will deploy the funds it received from this tourney will depend in part on how much is raised, the nonprofit’s executive director, Alex Durham, said frankly. “We’re currently assessing how Voyager can expand to meet the lack of child care options in Ouray County,” she said. “We’ll potentially grow” to include programs for kids as young as two-and-a-half. “We’re also looking at expanding our teen program,” Durham said. “The need is definitely growing. We’ve really had to pivot the model for how we’ve worked over the past two years.”
With schools struggling, “it got more difficult,” Durham said. Lunch breaks, where Voyager used to host programs, got shorter. “Health classes, where we used to host classes, and health teachers … it all changed. We’re trying to rethink how we can work with students,” she said. “We know teens need the support. It’s just not as easy to get to them.”
What Durham hopes comes out of the tournament is a recognition “that although we’re not a traditional chamber member, like a business or a restaurant, we look forward to working alongside other chamber members, and growing along with them. We’re not a typical chamber member,” yet the fact that Voyager is a beneficiary of the open “shows how willing and open the Chamber is to the whole community,” she said. “We’re willing to get super-creative with other chamber members and partner with them. The chamber is a wonderful example of how a group can really stick its neck out there” for a nonprofit that might be less well known, but whose contribution to the local community is, perhaps literally, priceless.
The Voyager Youth Program “provides vital after-school and summer programs as well as a teen center and various activities to help youth develop successfully and focus on their strengths and positive paths to adulthood,” in the words of a recent chamber news release.
Fees for the open “are $100 per person, which includes greens fees, the use of a golf cart, and the barbecue. It’s $400 for a foursome,” Dubroff said. “We’ve put in an order for good weather.” Recent rains “have helped the course,” he added. “It’s very lush. These are lush conditions.”
For more information about the Ridgway Chamber Open, to register, or to become a sponsor, visit ridgwaycolorado.com/news-events-/events/golf.
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