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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jim Meehan: Four area courses step up to host WIAA State golf tournaments

I was at MeadowWood Golf Course several weeks ago covering West Valley sophomore Melia Cerenzia as she pulled away to with the state 2A individual title.

At the outset of the awards ceremony, site manager Dave Tikker offered sincere thank s to MeadowWood and its staff for hosting, noting that it’s not always easy lining up courses willing to take on two-day state tournaments.

It stuck in my mind as a topic I hadn’t explored in a dozen-plus years of covering state golf, so I made a few calls to learn about the process involved for staging the events and positives and negatives for courses on the schedule.

MeadowWood (2A girls), Liberty Lake (2A boys), Creek at Qualchan (4A girls) and Indian Canyon (4A boys) served as state sites in May.

Hosting doesn’t generate a financial windfall compared to two regular business days at the courses. The tournaments certainly provide an economic impact with visiting players, family members and coaches occupying hotel rooms and seats at restaurants, including those at the golf courses, for the better part of three-day stays.

“If you got down to it, it’s a money loser but it’s good to host it and somebody should do it,” Indian Canyon pro Doug Phares said. “You don’t go broke, and you don’t get rich.

“We’ve had a good run (at Indian Canyon). I think we’ve done it every year I’ve been here, other than the irrigation installation in 2019 and COVID.”

Courses are reimbursed for player’s greens fees roughly at the junior rate of $15 per round plus additional fees. The standard pre-book rate is $52-$56 at county and city venues. Cart rentals are limited with the majority of players and spectators walking the course.

“One of our deals with being a PGA pro is growing the game,” MeadowWood pro Bob Scott said. “How do you grow the game more than getting high school kids out there?

“It takes up a little time and revenue, but at the same time that’s the future of the game.”

Indian Canyon is Lewis and Clark’s home course during the season. The venerable course also has the Inland Empire Golf Academy and hosts one of the Greater Spokane League’s weekly matches, an invitational boys’ tournament put on by LC and a Washington Junior Golf Association tournament.

MeadowWood hosts a GSL match and WJGA tournament as well as PGA Juniors and U.S. Kids Golf. MeadowWood and Liberty Lake are home to teams from Central Valley, Ridgeline and University.

Prior to the state events, the District 8 3A tournaments were held at MeadowWood Liberty Lake, the 2As were at Downriver and 1As played at Latah Creek and Deer Park.

District 7 director Joe Richer helps organize Washington Interscholastic Activities Association state golf tournaments conducted in the region. He works with Cherie Gwinn, of Spokane Sports, which is instrumental in bringing the tournaments to Eastern Washington.

“We went to the courses early last fall and tried to get a commitment for four years,” Richer said. “It’s kind of a crapshoot every year, but they wanted to get a commitment for four years and we’ve done that with the four courses and possibly Esmeralda. Cherie was a big part of that.”

With the tournaments secured, “the key job” for Richer was finding tournament managers for each site. He leans on experienced administrators with ties to athletics who have handled previous state events.

This year’s crew was Tikker (MeadowWood), Paul Manfred (Liberty Lake), Dave Hughes (Qualchan) and John Barrington (Indian Canyon).

“They’re darn good,” Richer stressed.

“The site managers coordinate all the volunteers and the scoring, so really it’s pretty easy on us,” Phares said. “We set the pins and play to the yardage they want the course to play. We had the 4A boys so (tees) were all the way back.”

State tournaments are usually played Monday/Tuesday. West Side qualifiers typically arrive a day or two early to get in a practice round or two.

“They (the courses) are giving up some of their revenue to do this, but they all know that their future customers are these kids,” Richer said. “Mondays can be historically slower at courses.”

State golf will return to Spokane-area courses for at least the next three years. Since the 4A and 2A classifications were on the state schedule this year, the region will probably entertain 3A and 1A next spring, though that will be determined at a later date, Richer said.

Many of the 2A girls took Tikker’s advice and complimented MeadowWood’s staff after the tournament.

“We got a bunch of them coming through the pro shop saying ‘thank you so much,’ ” Scott said. “We had a great group of kids and parents.”