The Western Nebraska golf scene got a big boost on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
A contingent of representatives from Scottsbluff and Gering schools and county officials made a pitch Wednesday to the NSAA as to why the Class B Girls State Golf Tournament should be held here. Almost as soon as the group was on the road and headed back to Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff County Tourism Director Brenda Leisy said, NSAA officials called to announce the good news: the Scottsbluff-Gering community had been selected to host the tournament in 2020, 2021 and 2022
The Scotts Bluff Country Club and Monument Shadows Golf Course are both in contention for the site of the tournament, the first NSAA-sanctioned state tournament hosted in western Nebraska since 1974-75 when the area hosted the state volleyball tournament.
“They did not commit to which course they would choose for the initial event,” Gering Parks Director Amy Seiler said. “They haven’t made a decision on if they will go back-to-back years. They did inform us that they will come out and take a look at our courses. Then,they will get back to us and let us know who will get that event that first year. We’re just looking forward to having them out here to show them the quality of the courses that we have.”
The timeline for making the decision is not yet known.
“We will just wait,” Scottsbluff activities director Dave Hoxworth said. “They said they will send us a contract soon. They said they will be coming out this summer. ... At this point, we’re just happy to have it in the west.”
All involved with the presentation to the NSAA said it was a great collaborative effort to land the tournament in western Nebraska.
“It’s obvious it’s a great opportunity,” Gering athletic director Glen Koski said. “What’s great about this whole deal is the fact that we worked together on projects. Dave and I work together on a lot of projects. This is just another thing to add to the table bringing in the state golf tournament. This is a lot bigger deal. It’s a great opportunity for us to host something like that. We’re very fortunate we’re able to work together to accomplish these things. I think it’s a great opportunity for our kids to have the state tournament out here.”
Hoxworth said the project came together quickly.
“We learned about this last spring and started working on it a little bit,” he said. “In the last month, we started working together and thought we could pool our resources and get more volunteers by using both communities. So, we decided to pitch it to NSAA. It worked out very well for us.”
Koski said the success that Scottsbluff and Gering has had in golf helped contribute to the NSAA’s decision to host the event in western Nebraska.
“That’s one of the things we stressed today. We had the top three teams in the state tournament this year — Scottsbluff, Gering and Ogallala.”
Part of the presentation by the Scottsbluff-Gering group touted the events that have been hosted in the area, such as the annual Platte Valley Pro-Am Tournament in Scottsbluff and Old West Balloon Fest.
Karla Neidan-Streeks, the executive director for Gering Tourism, said, “In our presentation we talked about all of these events and how we have expertise in our community in hosting those national events. I think it made an impression on the NSAA. And, in turn, this is going to be one of those major events for our community.”
Tourism officials believe it will be an economic boon for the area.
“I think it is going to be a great opportunity because I believe they are going to come out with their families in the summer. And, they’re going to check everything out,” Brenda Leisy, Scotts Bluff County tourism director, said. “Not just the courses, but they’re also going to check out the hotels. They’re going to visit different attractions. So, really, having them here in the fall is going to be the second and third trip for many of them.”
Leisy said there will be plenty for golfers and their families to do while they are here for the tournament.
“It’s going to bring in top class girls golfers in our state. They’re going to have an opportunity to play great courses in our communities. And, most importantly, they’re going to have the opportunity to experience all that western Nebraska has to offer,” she said. “You can’t beat that type of recognition statewide when they come to our community. We told the NSAA, our toughest hurdle is getting you here the first time. Once we get you here, like every other piece of state and national business, you can’t wait to come back.”
Neidan-Streeks said the economic impact of having the state tournament here will be felt for years to come.
“That’s an immeasurable asset for our communities for the future, not just for the next three years hosting state golf, but for future events we host as well,” she said. “People are going to know Scottsbluff and Gering and how we’re going to deliver as communities. And that’s important to the overall economic impact for years to come.”
Scottsbluff High School assistant principal Justin Shaddick said he thinks everybody making the trip to western Nebraska will leave with a new appreciation for the area.
“I think we will deliver a great product,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the players, the coaches and NSAA officials will walk away from the event just blown away by the experience. We will make it worth their while.”