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Bobcat North Dakota Open

The Bobcat North Dakota Open is a noteworthy example of Bobcat Company’s long history of community involvement. Since 1984, Bobcat has been the major corporate sponsor for the North Dakota Open at the Fargo Country Club, benefiting many worthwhile programs of The Village Family Service Center in Fargo. Through charitable giving and significant employee volunteer work, Bobcat is proud to help The Village offer its services to the community.

Bobcat loader at Bobcat ND Open tournament, Fargo Country Club.

2016 Open: August 26-28 at Fargo Country Club

The 52nd Annual Bobcat North Dakota Open is a pro-am golf tournament held each year at the Fargo Country Club, benefiting The Village Family Service Center. This year’s Bobcat North Dakota Open is Friday – Sunday, August 26 – 28, 2016.

When: August 26 – 28, 2016
Where: Fargo Country Club
Entry Deadline: August 19, 2016

Download Registration

Make a Payment

For questions, please contact the Fargo Country Club Golf Shop: 701-237-6746.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

All-day practice rounds
Pro-junior par-3 event


Friday, August 26, 2016
First round
Pro-am event


Saturday, August 27, 2016
Second round


Sunday, August 28, 2016
Final round
Awards ceremony

Gary Wolsky, president of The Village Family Service Center.
Fargo Country Club golf course.
Fargo Country Club golf course.

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Photo Gallery

See photos from past tournaments.

Sponsorship

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Volunteer

Interested in becoming a volunteer for the event? Learn more about the opportunities available.

Bobcat North Dakota Open News

2015 Daily Open Newsletter

Read or download last year's newsletter.

Past Tournament Winners

Bobcat ND Open champions, 1964 to present.

See a full list of the past winners

Ricky Hearden III, 2014 Bobat ND Open

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2015

The tournament champion in the 2014 Bobcat North Dakota Open had never played the Fargo Country Club – not even a practice round. After playing in the Wisconsin State Open the day before, Ricky Hearden III drove all night to reach Fargo in time for the opening round.

Golf is part of Hearden’s DNA. His father was founding president of the Green Bay Country Club and later founded Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in Door County, Wisconsin. “I got to grow up on world-class golf courses, so I feel very fortunate to be where I am today,” says Hearden, who turned pro in 2013 after graduating from Illinois State.

This year as last, Hearden is playing in the Dakotas Tour – a 19-event Upper Midwest tour that includes the Fargo Country Club. “I had heard the Fargo Country Club is one of the more difficult courses on the tour. Normally the course is very firm and windy. Last year we happened to catch the course on a week when it was softer and scores were a little lower.”

Lower indeed. Only twice since 1971 has anyone turned in a better total score than Hearden’s tournament-winning 200.

On hand to witness the win were Hearden’s parents. “After the second round they drove overnight from Green Bay to Fargo to see me play the third round. I ended up shooting 65 and winning it,” he says.

Despite not seeing the course before the opening round, Hearden says “I played well, birdied my last four holes in the second round to get into contention, and then played great on my last day. I think I beat everybody in the field by three or four shots in the final round.”

After the 2014 Dakotas Tour, Hearden participated in the PGA Tour Qualifying School. Tuition for Q-School is part of the prize package for winning the Bobcat ND Open. Last winter he played the Gateway Tour in Phoenix, where he now lives.

Hearden is playing the Bobcat ND Open again in 2015. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Fargo. Maybe I’ll have a chance to play a practice round this year,” he quips.

Steve Halverson, honorary chairman of the 2015 Bobcat ND Open.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2015

Steve Halverson has played an integral role in the Bobcat North Dakota Open since 1985. As a committee member and even chairman for the Bobcat North Dakota Open, he made decisions about all kinds of things that made the tournament what it is today.

For example, he helped decide what entrance fee to charge to make it affordable enough for young golfers but profitable enough for the charity, The Village Family Service Center. He helped determine what prizes to give winners and how to minimize unnecessary expenses while maximizing the overall quality of the event. He also worked on bringing in concession stands and organizing banquets that would feature a Bobcat “dance,” at which a few choreographed Bobcat® machines would weave in and out of formations to music.

“It’s like running a business,” he says. “You look at your income and expenses and how they changed this year to last year. And in the end, you hope it all works out – and, in golf, you also hope for good weather.”

Although this may sound like a full-time job in and of itself, Steve actually did all of this while starting his own company, Heartland Trust Company. Since 1989, Heartland Trust Company has provided innovative and professional financial management and trust services to individuals and businesses. This year the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

So what led Steve to volunteer so much of his time to the tournament while acting as the president and owner of his own business?

He loves his hometown of Fargo, he was on the board of The Village Family Service Center and he also had a son who played golf professionally for a couple of years after college, before starting a family and following in his father’s footsteps as an investment banker.

Tom Hoge, pro golfer and Fargo native, is at home on the Fargo Country Club course.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2015

Two Fargo natives, who now travel the nation as professional golfers, have fond memories of golfing at Fargo Country Club. They long for the day when they will have enough of a break in their grueling tour schedules to make it back to the Bobcat North Dakota Open for a trip down memory lane – which will hopefully be this year, they say.

Tom Hoge, 26, turned pro after graduating from Texas Christian University in 2011, the same the year he won the Canadian Tour’s 2011 Players Cup to gain entry into the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open.

Hoge has been golfing since he was just 3 years old and essentially grew up on the Fargo Country Club golf course. He first played in the Bobcat North Dakota Open when he was 12 years old, and he was one of the youngest players in the tournament – if not the youngest.

“I loved being around those older guys, and it was just something I fell in love with,” Hoge says. “I have so many good memories out there.”

Josh Persons, 31, also has fond memories of his hometown, of attending Fargo North High School, and of playing at the Bobcat North Dakota Open – once when he was very young and a few times as a pro.

“I miss Fargo. I miss going to the lake in the summer,” he says.

Persons started playing golf when he was just 4 or 5 years old and went pro in 2007, after graduating from the University of Minnesota. He played in the U.S. Open this June and hopes to play there again and, someday, in The Masters. He loves the game of golf because it always provides a new challenge.

“Things are always changing – both yourself and the conditions,” Persons says. “I’d love to play it forever.”

What Hoge loves most about golf is that it holds you accountable to no one but yourself.

“There’s no one else you can blame or put the excuses on,” he says.

Hoge and Persons keep equally hectic schedules and essentially live on the road, although they have homes in Texas and Arizona, respectively.

“Right now, this is the ninth event I’ve played in a row,” Hoge says.

His favorite courses are Pumpkin Ridge and Oakmont CC. Like Persons, Hoge would like to play Augusta National, and he recently qualified for the U.S. Open. He also placed 12th in the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis in June, with a 6-under score of 274, claiming his highest finish during his rookie year on the professional golf tour and earning $114,000. Then, in July, he made the top five of the Canadian Open with a 13-under score of 66. Hoge’s total earnings of $247,278 this season rank him 166th out of 249 players on the PGA Tour’s money list.

“I’m just getting comfortable and have kind of settled into it now,” he says. “I’m building confidence as I see that I can compete out there, and I'm really starting to believe in myself. It’s really healthy.”

Andre Metzger lines up a putt.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2014

Andre Metzger, 32, isn’t one to back down from a challenge, especially after he missed a birdie at par 3 number 15 during last year’s Bobcat North Dakota Open in Fargo. “By missing that putt, it gave Chris (Evans) a great chance to come back,” Metzger said. “It would have put more pressure on him than me, where missing that putt put more pressure on me to not lose.”

Metzger persevered and pulled away from Evans, winning the 2013 tournament with a score of nine under. “After the front 9, I had a really good lead so I was pretty much in control,” he said. “We went to the back 9 so I was in the position where I had to play smart. It was tough for me because I went through a ton of emotions from having things in the bag to seeing things start to slip away.” “For him (Chris) to push me and for me to overcome that adversity really helped me.”

The experience itself, Metzger said, allowed him to overcome his own demons and pushed him to excel on the course. This year, Metzger is hoping for the same outcome in the Dakota’s Tour. “Most guys who know me, know me as one of the best putters, but that’s (actually) where I’ve been struggling (lately),” he said. “When I do putt well, I win, but I’m really hoping to get three wins and to be player of the year in the Dakota’s Tour.”

Metzger, who resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, is currently in his second season on the All-American Gateway Tour.

John Mark

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2014

Much has changed in John Mark’s life in the past 50 years since he first played at the Bobcat North Dakota Open on September 27, 1964. What hasn’t changed is his continued passion for the sport. Mark, 71, and now retired, remembered the event starting out as a two-day tournament; however, Mother Nature had other plans. “The first day it just blew and hailed and everything, so it turned out to be one day, just on Sunday,” he said. Despite the weather, Mark said he played fairly well — finishing 11th in the amateur division. “I’m not the best, but I’m better than nothing,” he chuckled.

The open, which was started by Bill Swanston of Fargo, North Dakota, featured only area pros from the Cities, Iowa and Winnipeg. Today, the tournament has expanded to feature pro golfers including 2013 winner Andre Metzger and 2012 winner Ryan Lenahan. Another attribute to the tournament’s success is its contribution to The Village Family Service Center of Fargo — a local organization helping area children and families. “It’s just wonderful that Bobcat has stayed with the tournament,” Mark said. “Kudos to the (Fargo) Country Club and Bobcat for supporting The Village and keeping this thing going, because it’s important to the community.” Today, Mark still makes time for golf and volunteers his time as a starter at the Fargo County Club. He previously served 28 years on the SGA and attended 23 national tournaments.

Ryan Lenahan, winner of the 2012 Bobcat ND Open.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2013

Fargo Country Club holds very special memories for Ryan Lenahan, not just because his eagle putt in a stellar final round captured the 2012 Bobcat North Dakota State Open. It also provided the scenic backdrop for meeting his future bride – successes that are both credited to the Michigan native’s work ethic.

As he climbed into a top 10 earnings position on the Dakotas Tour, fatigue was settling in. His first-round 73 was punctuated with mental errors. The first three holes on day two were a repeat performance, made more challenging by windy conditions. His game finally turned the corner with a rain delay that sharpened his focus. A hot putter propelled him to the day’s low round of 65.

“I could’ve easily left and been content, but I stuck around and putted because I still wasn’t really happy with my play,” Lenahan said. Timing is everything. Departing the practice green, his path crossed with the parents of a fellow Michigan player. The visit included an introduction to their daughter Amy – whose heart he would also win that weekend.

Lenahan started the second round only four shots off leader Ryan Peterson who four-putted an early green. Playing smart and steady on the front nine, it was his eagle 3 on the par-5 11th hole tied him for the lead. “That’s when I knew I had a really good chance to win the tournament and it sparked me. I played very solid on the back nine and hit every shot the way that I wanted to.”

Landing good drives on firm greens, he putted to a slim two-stroke lead alongside former ND Open champion, University of Nebraska teammate, and soon-to-be best man, Brady Schnell. The win earned him $10,000, plus a $4,500 sponsorship from Bobcat to cover his PGA Tour Qualifying School entry fee.

Despite not advancing out of Q-School, he qualified for an alternate position at the prestigious U.S. Open last June. He hopes to be back in Fargo this year with his fiancée, shooting for more hardware to adorn their golf-themed wedding reception next month in Charlotte, N.C.

Donald Constable played in the 2013 Bobcat ND Open.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2013

Minnesota’s Donald Constable is living proof that hard work, focus and confidence can make your PGA Tour dream can come true. Just four months after finishing the 2012 Bobcat North Dakota State Open, Constable achieved the highest echelon of his sport, and now shares the fairways with names like Woods, McIlroy and Mickelson.

Constable grew into the game as a standout at Minnetonka High School and the University of Minnesota. Graduating with a Sociology degree, he continued to refine his skills in national amateur tournaments and carded a 211 in Fargo for a fifth-place tie with Ian Hessels — Constable’s first professional tournament.

Last fall, he stepped on the road to the PGA Tour — Qualifying School (Q-School) — enrolling in the grueling four-stage qualifying process. Thousands of miles and 22 pressure-packed rounds later, his quest ended with some clutch putts that gave him a one-stroke win and earned him one of the coveted 25 full PGA Tour cards for the 2013 season.

At 23, Constable has reached the pinnacle, which means driving to the pin in Maui breezes one week and dropping putts at Torrey Pines the next. “Living on the road and out of a suitcase has been the biggest adjustment,” Constable says, “it’s a challenging game as it is, but you have to step it up because now you’re playing in front of crowds and it’s your livelihood,” he adds.

While Constable didn’t make the cut in his first few tour outings, he picked up a nice win at the 2013 Coors Light Open in Fort Myers last February. In April’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, Constable was only five shots off the lead. He missed the cut by a single stroke with rounds of 76-70, identical to John Daly’s scorecard. Although he wasn’t on the leaderboard’s short list, he showcased his potential by dominating the “greens in regulation” category with 80.5 percent, far ahead of the field average of 59.5 percent. At the Mid- Atlantic Championship in Potomac, Md., he made the cut and finished in a four-way tie for 43rd place out of a field of 60 with a 6-over-par 289. “There’s such a fine line between being in contention and making the cut or going home,” says Constable.

Constable is an accomplished driver spending most of his childhood on a hockey rink developing his natural slap shot. “When you get to this level, everyone hits it pretty good. The guys who are finishing in the top 20 every week are always the ones putting it the best,” he says. Constable is building momentum to keep his dream alive. “I’m still having fun and I’m fortunate enough to have my occupation be something I love to do. I’ve always said if I just get better every year, whether I keep my card or lose it, my golf game will take care of itself.”

Tom Hoge grew up playing the Fargo Country Club.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2013

What happens in Fargo doesn’t always stay in Fargo. Growing up on the fairways of Fargo Country Club working with former club pro Peter Nervick, Tom Hoge dreamed of swinging his clubs as a professional at legendary links worldwide. Now he’s quickly making a name for himself on the Web.com Tour and one step away from the PGA Tour.

After helping Fargo South High School win four state championships, he carded the low amateur score of 205 at the 2006 Bobcat North Dakota State Open. He continued to garner top 10 finishes at Texas Christian University. After strong showings in PGA Tour Canada events in the summer of 2011, Hoge excelled in that year’s PGA Tour Q-School class and earned his web.com card.

The past two years, Hoge has been refining his game on the PGA Tour’s Web.com Tour, considered the highest-profile developmental tour in the world of men’s golf. He took second place in the BMW Charity Pro-Am with a 22-under-par 264, tied for 37th in the Brazil Classic and tied for 69th in the WNB Golf Classic.

Through June he’d won $82,687 – a 33 percent increase in earnings compared to 2012 when he had two top 10 finishes in 24 tournaments. Finishing in the top 25 earnings list automatically qualifies him for most PGA Tour tournaments. “I’m right there, so I’ve got to keep working harder each day to move up,” the 24-year-old Hoge says.

Hoge is pleased with his progress and coming back to Fargo is now a dream in reverse for the busy pro. “I would love to have the time to play in the Bobcat North Dakota Open because I love the course so much and they always make me feel so welcome.”

Did you know?
Tom Hoge’s best finish on the Web.com Tour in 2013 is 2nd at the BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by SYNNEX Corporation. He ranks 27th in Money Leaders on the Web.com Tour.

Eddie Langert, 1964 Open Champion.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2013

Nearly 55 years after turning pro, Eddie Langert’s passion for golf keeps driving his career. The first-ever champion of the North Dakota State Open is still playing and impacting the game.

At 28, when Langert shot his way to the 1964 Open, his name had only appeared atop the leaderboard a few times in the previous six years. “I have fond memories because it was one of the biggest tournaments I’d won up to that time,” Eddie says.

Strong Arming in Fargo
It was his passion for golf that drove him through a rough patch on the road to Fargo. After playing a full year on the PGA Tour in 1960, earning paychecks in 21 of 26 tournaments, his left shoulder began to sag — up to 3-1/2 inches out of its socket. It required an extremely rare surgery up to that point. Following the procedure, he settled into a job as the golf pro at Town and Country Club in St. Paul, Minn., and a year-long recuperation.

Eddie came back even stronger, carding victories in smaller tournaments and pro-am events before winning the ’64 Open at the Fargo Country Club. He has vivid memories of the Fargo links. High winds and driving rain cut the 36-hole event in half. In chilly 50-degree temperatures, Langert shot rounds of 37-35 for a 72. He was the only participant in the 109-golfer field to break par on the back nine, earning $25 lap money on top of the $400 cash prize.

“When I won, the course was two totally different nines designed by two different designers. It was a challenge because it was close to the river, but it was fun and exciting to play that tournament in those days. It’s become quite an event now,” Eddie says.

The next year, Eddie battled Jack Webb through the 18th hole, but his bid for the ’65 Open fell short by a single stroke. Eddie continued to work on his game, winning two championships in 1968 at the Minnesota State Open and the Iowa State Open after playing in six U.S. Opens from 1959-1967.

From Green Bay to TaylorMade
A new job at Oneida Golf and Riding Club in Green Bay, Wis., allowed him to play in PGA Tournaments until he stepped back in 1973 to spend more time with his family. He served as PGA president for the next two years. It was this Green Bay stint that paved the way for his most lucrative career move.

Gary Adams, a golf club salesman from McHenry, Ill., who regularly called on Eddie while chasing a different dream, was trying to generate interest in a new venture. He shared his idea with Eddie, and before long the duo co-founded a little-known company: TaylorMade Golf.

Eddie designed clubs and helped market products to PGA players. Together, they built TaylorMade into a household name. In 1986, Eddie started Langert Golf, designing such clubs as the “Fat Eddie” and the “Langert Lizard” metal-wood drivers for an international market. Eddie left TaylorMade during the economic downturn of 1989 and focused his efforts on Langert Golf. He noted particular success among PGA Senior Tour players before selling the company to the Benetton family of Italy in the early ’90s.

Now 76, Langert lives on the PGA West Golf Course in LaQuinta, Calif., home of the Bob Hope Classic/Humana Challenge. However, another Green Bay connection has lured him back to TaylorMade, where he is an advisor to President and CEO Mark King. “Mark was a kid I hired to help me in the golf shop. I hired him again after college as a salesman, and he worked his way up the ranks. I contribute as much as I can to make the business successful for them,” Langert says. After two hip surgeries, when he’s not sharing expertise with King, he’s gathering it on the course with his favorite weekly foursome or his wife, Jane, a three-time cancer survivor. Still driven by his passion, Eddie plans to work with TaylorMade until 2014, but not before hitting another milestone on his golf journey. Later this year, he will celebrate his Golden Anniversary as a 50-year member of the PGA.

Jack Webb, 1965 Open Champion.

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2013

At the time Jack Webb started playing golf, Herbert Hoover was President, the U.S. population had just surpassed 123 million, Hostess introduced Twinkies, Prohibition was the law of the land and America was on the cusp of the Great Depression.

Jack’s long and celebrated career in golf began as a caddy at Brooks Country Club, located in Okoboji, Iowa, a job he relished every summer for five years before he started working at the Club in 1935. From that point forward, there was no turning back.

“My parents were starting to play golf in 1930 and that’s when I caught the bug,” Webb recalls. “We played sand greens back then. I played a lot of amateur golf in the 1940s, after serving in World War II. When I got out of the service I attended Iowa State and competed there for four years before moving to Atlantic (Iowa) to teach. I was also golf coach, in addition to assistant basketball, football coach. And here we are some 80 years later, and I’m still teaching golf!”

Jack’s affection for the Fargo community dates back more than a half century. He first became acquainted with the area when playing in the Pine to Palm Tournament held in Detroit Lakes, Minn., a tradition that continued for many years. In 1960, Edgewood Golf Course located here, approached him about taking over as course professional. Then age 37, Jack admits struggling a bit with the decision to leave academia and go into professional golfing.

“We decided to try it,” Jack says. “I moved the family to Fargo in 1961 and made the transition from teacher to golf professional at Edgewood Golf Course. Later I became golf professional and sports director for the Fargo Park District followed by three wonderful years at Fargo Country Club as head golf professional. Needless to say I became very familiar with the course during that time.”

In 1967, in was back to Iowa for the Webb family when Jack accepted the offer as course pro at Wakonda Country Club in Des Moines, a position he would hold for the next 19 years. He’s been teaching at Des Moines Golf and Country Club for the previous 26 years and is still helping out today.

“I get out to the club three or four days a week and play with some of the members,” Jack says. “Everyone treats me very well. I’m happy to have such a wonderful career. I still enjoy it all very much.”

A Classic Finish by a Class Act
With the exception of the purse amount awarded him as the 1965 North Dakota State Open Champ, Jack’s recollection of the victory is as vivid as the dramatic fashion by which he won the tournament. Tied with the previous year’s winner, Ed Langert, as the duo stepped onto the tee box of the 18th and final hole, Langert’s drive fell just short of taking a dip in the Red River. A miraculous second shot put Jack’s opponent on the green in two. Jack’s drive was safely in the fairway, although his second shot fell just short of the green. Then, the miracle happened.

“I hit one of the shots of my life then,” Jack recalls with a sheepish grin. “My pitch shot rolled into the cup for a birdie on the 18th, while Ed two-putted giving me the win by a single stroke. That birdie shot was shown many times on Fargo television, and I still get a big grin when I watch it. That victory will remain etched in my memory with great fondness.”

A classic finish, not unlike that of a Hollywood screenwriter, Jack and 10-year-old son John, his caddy for the tournament, embraced on the gently sloping 18th green and humbly tipped his cap to the crowd of golf enthusiasts who had surrounded the finishing hole.

“It was a memorable event for both my son and me,” Jack says, “but I have no recollection of how much I money I received as top prize for winning the tournament. In those days, we felt fortunate if you’d win $500 in a tournament victory."

Recalling the uniqueness of Fargo Country Club
Jack reiterated that having played the course often in advance of his ’65 Open victory was an advantage, and underscores for all golfers the importance that being familiar with a golf course can have on a scoring round, especially in tournament play. He cites several design features of the course that make Fargo Country Club unique.

“It’s a very interesting course to play,” Jack says. “The front and back are two totally different nines, one very flat, then along the river, very narrow but not too long. The 18th is a very interesting hole. It’s not all that long, but it is very narrow and runs right along the river as it comes back up toward the clubhouse. The elevated green for your second shot is very difficult, definitely a finesse shot. I hit it up, rolled back a bit and happened to pitch it in from there. On that day in ‘65, it worked out well for me.”

Over the more than eight decades that Jack has played golf, most of us can imagine the many changes he has experienced in the game of golf over those 80-plus years. Among the most notable, from Jack’s perspective has been the innovations in club design and materials fabrication that have allowed golfers to drive the ball further and with more accuracy. That said, Jack points out that course architects course designers have responded to equipment technology, extending the length of holes, adding challenging fairway obstacles and more challenging green construction, factors that collectively have resulted in creating more frustrations for golfers.

“Metal heads, titanium shafts, ball composition and compression … there are so many advancements that enhance the game,” Jack says. “The equipment manufacturers have done a lot to supposedly make it easier to play. But I’m sorry, the game is never easy. Players today are more athletic, strong and fit and really work hard on their training, not only physically, but psychologically. Having a psychologist along when I was playing was unheard of.”

Shooting his age … at 87!
Among the many highlights on Jack’s golfing dossier — the many birdies, countless middle-of-the-fairway drives, and yes even the miraculous birdies to secure a championship — there is one accomplishment (aside from bettering his brother to capture the State Amateur title in 1949) that remains among the most rewarding for him.

“I shot my age the first time when I was 67 years old,” Jack recalls. “That was 20 years ago. I actually shot a 66 at a tournament that same year and have shot my age every year since then. As they say so many times, it gets easier every year, you know. That number just keeps getting higher.”

Career Highlights of a Golfing Legend
• Began playing golf in 1930 at age 7
• Won State Amateur Title [Iowa] twice (1949 and 1960)
• Golf coach at Atlantic [Iowa] High School
• Golf Pro at Edgewood Golf Course [Fargo] in 1960 at age 37
• Golf Pro at Fargo Country Club in 1964 for 3 years
• Course Pro at Wakonda Country Club [Des Moines] for 19 years, beginning in 1967
• Golf instructor at Des Moines Golf & Country Club for 26 years
• U.S. National Amateur Tournament
• Two-time qualifier for the U.S. PGA Tournament (1968 and 1969)
• Played in the USGA National Senior Open Tournament four times
• First shot his age at 67 and has done so every year since

Kleingartner family.

The Village Family Service Center assists in fulfilling a family dream for Doosan staff member and his wife

SOURCE: Bobcat North Dakota Daily Open Newsletter, August 2013

When Aaron and Kari were married in November of 2004, among their many shared dreams was to become parents. Whenever the subject of children and parenthood surfaced, the couple’s debate was not when, but rather, how many. Aaron, a segment application marketing manager for Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment (parent company of Bobcat), and his bride revisited that dream often during the first several years of their marriage however, after receiving a discouraging medical diagnosis that they would likely not be able to conceive, the subject of children took a much different turn. That’s when the couple reached out to The Village Family Service Center

At the suggestion of their pastor, Aaron and Kari first contacted Lutheran Social Services to inquire about the adoption process. It was during that visit the couple learned the two organizations work collaboratively to help couples become parents and families.

“Adoption certainly wasn’t a decision Kari and I made overnight,” Aaron says. “Ultimately, it was the best solution for us.” The Village Family Service Center was there to guide us through each step in the process, answer all our questions and assist us in every way possible. It seemed a bit daunting at first, both logically and emotionally, but The Village made it really easy. Now, we have been blessed with an awesome little boy who has made our dream of becoming parents come true.”

Julie Kloster, the adoption counselor at The Village who consulted with Aaron and Kari throughout says the foundation of the process is openness and communication.

“When both the adoptive and birth parents understand that ultimately, each wants what is in the best interest of the child, the process becomes less fearful,” Kloster says. “It begins by establishing a comfort level that stems from an open and honest assessment of shared values. Adoption services have evolved far beyond the once-held traditional views of many people. Open adoption offers the opportunity for birth parents to have a voice in choosing their child’s future, and most importantly, to be connected to the child as he or she grows up. We work with both the birth and adoptive family to develop the type of adoption that is mutually compatible for all.”

Although Aaron and Kari recognize there are children all over the world that need a loving home, the West Fargo couple chose the North Dakota Infant program because they also felt there were children locally with the same needs. They also desired a child that had a heritage similar to theirs. The North Dakota Infant program was also within the couple’s financial means, another factor that is also an important consideration of the adoption process. This is one of several adoption options offered and facilitated by The Village.

“Our counselor was absolutely awesome and made the whole process easy to follow,” Kari says. “Working through the various stages of the adoption process is quite emotional, but Julie really understood the psychological aspects of adoption, as well as the legal, and was there at every step to lend support.”

Since 1891, The Village Family Service Center has helped area children and families improve their lives. Established initially as a home for orphaned children, The Village existed at that time primarily as a sanctuary for those who often had no place to go. But over the years, it became more apparent that it wasn’t just kids who were in need of help, so The Village began to expand service offerings to include individual and family counseling, child care, mentoring and adoption — even financial counseling and workplace issues management.

Today, the Village reaches out to more than 80,000 people every year, and continues to adapt services to meet the changing needs of modern life, and has been the sole beneficiary of The Bobcat North Dakota State Open since Bobcat Company became the tournament’s corporate sponsor in 1984.

"Our longstanding partnership with Bobcat Company is a perfect example of what is right about the folks of our community and our region,” said Gary Wolsky, president and CEO of The Village Family Service Center. “The generous support of Bobcat Company through the years means that kids and families get the extra help they need. We're building a brighter future one family at a time. Aaron, Kari and Matthew's story is a testament to this."

“Becoming parents obviously changed our life in many ways, all of which were awesome,” Aaron says. “The Village has given us something we had dreamed of since we got married. We often say that we can’t remember what our lives were like before Matthew arrived. Thanks to the good folks at The Village, the disappointment we faced when learning we would be unable to become biological parents has long been forgotten. Matthew is not our adopted son; he is our son, pure and simple.”

Visit The Village Website

Rennovations the green

Although it may not look dramatic — or be noticed by most — the Fargo Country Club’s golf course recently underwent some major renovations that will make a big difference to Bobcat North Dakota Open golfers for years to come.  The modifications come just in time, too, because this is the first year the Bobcat North Dakota Open will be home to the Dakota’s Tour championship.

Aaron Porter, superintendent of the Fargo Country Club golf course, and his staff of 24 have been battling Red River flooding for years now. This year they built a floodwall that will protect five holes along the back nine of the golf course from the overflowing riverbanks.

They also added tee boxes on the 14th hole and raised the first quarter of the hole 7 feet, to meet the height of the new floodwall. In addition, they widened the fairway by removing more than 1,000 trees, to make the placement of the floodwall possible.

“I’ve been working on renovations here for eight years,” Porter says. “Although we’ve done a lot of projects over the years, this was by far the biggest. The actual construction took three months and then we spent the last six weeks seeding and sodding the new tees and fairways.”

Dennis Chandler, executive director of the Dakotas Tour, said the renovations are “subtle changes that will keep the entirety of the golf course in play not only for the Dakota’s Tour event, but for the members of the Fargo Country Club throughout the golf season.”

Chandler reiterated how special the Fargo Country Club course is, and how pleased he is that these improvements will make it better than ever.

“The Fargo Country Club is a fantastic venue, and they do a wonderful job of compromising, but they shouldn’t have to,” Chandler says. “Almost every year they have to modify the course by shortening tee boxes to get around water, playing a hole as a par 4 instead of a par 5 or even, like last year, using a hole from the adjacent course in place of one that was unplayable. It makes it a teeth-grinder for everybody involved. These renovations should prevent the club — and Porter’s staff — from scrambling to modify the course so often.”

Tom Lehman, the architect hired by Fargo Country Club to oversee renovations, is currently designing additional improvements to the golf course, including the addition of two new holes, which will be announced later this year.

Honorary Chairman Michael Howell

The Honorary Chairman of this year’s Bobcat North Dakota Open is a self-described surgeon-turned-golfer.

“Golf is my job now,” he jokes.

Dr. Michael Howell completed about 5,000 gastric bypass surgeries during his 48 years as a Bariatric surgeon in Fargo. Now he golfs nearly every day, and if there is a day he doesn’t play golf, he thinks about it.

But golf is not a new hobby for Dr. Howell, who has been hooked on the sport since he was 11 years old.

“I was caddying for my mother while she was playing with some friends,” Dr. Howell says. “When the ladies went in to have lunch, I went out to play golf — and fell in love with it right away.”

Dr. Howell played golf avidly for the next seven years, until he went into pre-med and then medical school. Then, in 1976, he joined the Fargo Country Club and began playing in the annual Bobcat North Dakota Open every year for the next three decades. When he was 40 years old, he won second place to Mike Podolak in the amateur gross division with a score of 218 — two over par.

Now, in addition to being a husband of 49 years to his wife Michela, a father to four grown children, and a grandpa to 10 grandchildren, Dr. Howell still golfs competitively in several golf associations: The North Dakota, Minnesota and Florida golf associations, The Society of Seniors, and The International and American Senior golf associations.

Not only is Dr. Howell passionate about the sport of golf, but he’s also a longtime supporter of the Bobcat North Dakota Open.

“It’s one of the highlights at the end of the summer season,” he says. “It’s a well-run tournament, and they’re fortunate to have Bobcat as a sponsor.”

Miller Says a 'Hometown Advantage' Helped Him

Matt Miller, the winner of the 2015 Bobcat North Dakota Open, said he felt like he had a hometown advantage, even though he had never been to Fargo.

“I didn’t feel like it was a major adjustment during the practice round because I had grown up on courses like that in Bloomington, Illinois, so I felt really at home.”

Miller has been golfing since he was 4 years old, and first learned from his dad.

He was especially grateful for the hospitality of Cliff and Jane Mattson, who he stayed with during the tournament — and also that the greens were in great shape during the tournament.

“It’s a course where you have to make sure you don’t get too far out of position because it’s very difficult to save par if you do,” he says. “So you really have to think your way around.”

Miller beat Fargo’s own Tom Hoge — fresh off his first season on the PGA Tour, which included a recent round with Tiger Woods — by one stroke, over a Hoge-cheering crowd and fierce North Dakota winds. Miller gave away a three-stroke lead on the back nine, but rallied with two birdies on the final two holes, winning the tournament.

“It was a relief to win because so much has to go right,” Miller says. “To get past the last hole and win it was fantastic.”

Miller will use his winnings to pay for his entrance fee to the 2017 PGA Tour Qualifying School. Tuition for Q-School is part of the prize package for winning the Bobcat ND Open.

Since winning the Bobcat North Dakota Open, Miller moved to Dallas, Texas and has played six events in Latin America, including the PGA Tour Latinoamérica. He also recently played two tournaments in Iowa before returning to Texas for the Texas State Open.

So what’s next for Miller?

He hopes to get on the next Web.com tour — and also to make it back to Fargo for the 2016 Bobcat North Dakota Open.

Volunteer of the year steve hohnadel

Steve Hohnadel has been a volunteer at the Annual Bobcat North Dakota Open for 33 years.

The tournament benefits The Village Family Service Center, where Hohnadel has worked since 1983. As the maintenance manager for The Village Family Service Center, he oversees the maintenance of all buildings and properties, and ensures they are properly furnished and that the shelves are always stocked.

Hohnadel finds his job rewarding because he knows he is a part of something bigger than himself that helps others. He says he finds volunteering at the Bobcat North Dakota Open rewarding for the same reason, since it raises money for The Village Family Service Center.

“The Village is a place that has been helping people for 125 years with everything from adoptions to counseling,” he says. “It’s nice to be a part of it  - and the tournament is something fun that raises money for the organization.”

Although Hohnadel is in his 60s now and is often erecting tents and signs for the tournament amid the summer heat, he seems unfazed by the task.

“I do the physical stuff,” he says, “but I suppose I’m built for it.” Every year he puts up about five tents and 40 signs by himself - everything from signs that thank tournament sponsors to signs that direct people where to go.

In his free time, Hohnadel is an avid biker who teaches motorcycle safety training in the summer. The Casselton, North Dakota, native says the region is ideal for bikers because “it’s flatter than Iowa, so you can see for miles and miles.”

“You can stand on top of your dog house and watch him run away for three days,” he says.

More About the Bobcat ND Open

Dakotas Tour

The Dakotas Tour is a developmental tour that has served as a starting point for many young pros coming out of college, wanting to sharpen their game prior to a shot at the PGA, Nationwide or Champions tours. The Dakotas Tour is a 19-event professional golf tour played in the Midwest states of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota. Professional golfers play for a total of approximately $750,000 over the course of a quick nine weeks, starting the week before the Fourth of July and ending the week after Labor Day.

The Village Family Service Center

The Village Family Service Center has been working with children and families since 1891, when it was established as the North Dakota Children’s Home Society. Through the mid-1960s, the organization’s primary emphasis was to provide for homeless children through foster care and adoption. Over the years, its services have changed and expanded to keep up with the changing world and the changing needs of our community. Today, The Village provides a full range of services, including counseling programs, adoption, financial counseling, unplanned pregnancy counseling, child care, and mentoring programs like the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.

Bobcat Company

As North Dakota’s largest manufacturer, Bobcat Company is the world leader in the engineering, manufacture, and marketing of compact equipment, with more than 3,000 employees worldwide.

Bobcat® equipment works behind the scenes to help maintain some of the world’s most prestigious courses. Products such as the Bobcat all-wheel steer loader and the Toolcat™ utility work machine are preferred by golf superintendents because of their low impact on sensitive turf.

Bobcat Company is a subsidiary of Doosan Infracore Bobcat Holdings Co., Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Doosan Infracore Co., Ltd.