State tournament a local economic boost


When almost 100 women come to town to play golf, it takes more than a little effort to make such a venture run smoothly.
The Wayne Country Club has been playing host to the Nebraska Women’s Amateur Golf Association (NWAGA) Seniors state tournament this week, and such an event is not only an opportunity to showcase one of the best small-town 18-hole courses in the state, but to provide a little economic boost to the town as well.
Wayne Country Club PGA pro Troy Harder said the Nebraska Golf Association contacted him last August about hosting a tournament. The club has hosted statewide events in the past and recently hosted some junior state tournaments, so the club was ready when this latest opportunity came around.
“I’ve always told them that any time they need us to host something to let us know, and they’re pretty good about rotating these tournaments around the state,” Harder said. “I’d been bugging them about hosting something, so they called and asked if we would host this one.”
The club’s staff and a host of volunteers work to get the course ready for play and to serve as host for the NWAGA’s pre-tournament banquet.
“Brian (Gibson) and the guys out on the course make sure everything’s mowed and looks good and all the hazard and out-of-bounds markers are properly marked, and I try to make sure we’ve got enough volunteers and get the food and some other things lined up,” Harder said. “We also have people like my wife, Shelly, and John Fuelberth and Jim Curtiss and Kevin Peterson who help out with a number of things. It takes a lot of volunteer help and member golf carts to get this done.”
The effort has not gone unnoticed by NWAGA executive director Shelly Liddick.
“I just started in May, so this was my first look at the course,” she said. “You want to have a golf course that is worthy of hosting a championship like this, and the Wayne Country Club certainly is. Troy took me out around the course on Monday, and Wayne has a beautiful golf course that’s championship worthy for sure.”
About the only thing Harder and his crew couldn’t account for is the typical Nebraska weather, which reared its ugly head late Tuesday morning shortly after the second round of the 54-hole tournament. Dark skies, lightning and two inches of rain in a 90-minute period chased the 98 golfers competing in the three-day tournament indoors, where they played cards in the clubhouse and waited out the storm.
“Monday night after we got done with the first day, I told my wife that I thought Tuesday was going to be a good day, and then the weather showed up and I wondered if we’d even get back out after all that rain,” Harder said. “The nice thing about this course is that it drains really well, so we were able to go back out about an hour after it stopped raining to look around and it was still playable in all but a couple of spots.”
“I was shocked at how well the course recovered,” Liddick added. “To see that much rain, and then go out an hour later and there were just a few spots where you could tell i thad rained, I was amazed at how well the course absurd the rain and softened up the greens, which the ladies really liked.”
Having a state tournament here in Wayne is not only beneficial to the golf course, but to the town’s business district. With about 100 people visiting town, the hotels were mostly full and the local restaurants benefitted from the golfers and their families who came for the tournament.
“It’s good advertising for us, and it’s good to get people to come to town and stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants,” Harder said. “Bringing 100 people to town for something like this is a good thing for the community.”
And you can bet that the NWAGA will likely return to Wayne at some point in the near future.
“I could definitely see us scheduling another (state) event here,” Liddick said. “It’s a great place and a great golf course.”