Farmers’ Day Off Golf Tournament celebrates 40 years

Ken Schlager (left) and Paul Rezac are hard at work preparing lunch at the smoker during the Farmer's Day Off Golf Tournament at the Monument Shadows Golf Course in Gering Thursday.

GERING — What began as an informal gathering of a few guys at Morrill’s Rolling Greens Golf Course has now become an annual event in its 40th year.

The Farmers’ Day Off Golf Tournament began in 1980. Around 150 golfers of all ages and more than 400 farmers and agricultural workers stopped in for lunch Thursday at Monument Shadows Golf Course in Gering.

“It’s really an appreciation day to recognize the ag community for what they do,” said Gini Heinz, secretary/treasurer of the tournament organizing committee. “It’s a small way for us to let them know that they’re appreciated here in the valley, especially this year.”

The committee includes Heinz, Dennis Stricker, Todd Neu and Ken Schlager, who has been part of the event since its beginning.

“It’s something that we get to do every year for the farm crowd,” Stricker said. “It’s a show of appreciation from us. They get to take a little bit of a day off, and they all enjoy it.”

The event began as a way for implement dealers to show their appreciation for the farmers. The Business Farmer’s then-owner Penny Yekel helped pick up the torch and publicize the event and helped it grow to more than 200 golfers quickly.

Don Dillman had Sure Crop Chemical in Morrill and provided soft drinks for the participants in the first year of the event. Thursday, he was playing in the tournament.

Heinz said the tournament couldn’t happen without it’s sponsors. This year’s 32 sponsors include five of the original 25 sponsors - The Business Farmer, Kelley Bean, Sandberg Implement, Frank Power Sports & Parts Company (formerly Frank Implement) and Horizon West, Inc.

Ken McBride of Vistabeam Wireless said he had seen a good turnout for the day.

“It’s always fun to do this tournament,” he said. “Everyone is just out here to have a good time. It’s great to give these guys a day out where they can just enjoy.”

David Hinman was playing in a family foursome Thursday and said he appreciated the chance to get away from the grasshoppers and flies in his alfalfa fields for a day.

“More or less, it’s a relaxation time for us,” he said. “It’s a chance to catch up with some of your neighbors and take some stress off. We need it, especially this year.”

Neu thanked the volunteers who helped put on the event, some of whom were at the golf course Wednesday night to get the meat in the smokers and locally grown beans in the pans for Thursday’s lunch.

“We always have a lot of good help,” Neu said. “It makes it go quick, and we have a good time doing it.”

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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