CEDAR RAPIDS — While the field wasn’t as big as it had been in years past, high-quality golf still appeared on Friday at Ellis Golf Course in Cedar Rapids.
Sierra Hargens made sure of it.
The collegiate golfer at Indiana State shot a 66 on Friday afternoon — six under the course par — to clinch the open division in the Cedar Rapids Women’s City Amateur tournament by 12 strokes. Hargens’ 66, paired with the 70 she shot in the first day of competition at Twin Pines Golf Course, gave her a two-day total of 136.
“I drove the ball good,” Hargens said. “I hit all my irons pretty close, made makable putts, made a lot of putts, didn’t miss any short ones, which usually doesn’t happen. Everything just kind of came together.”
Hargens started the day out three strokes behind second-place finisher Julie Buerman, who shot a 67 in the first round. But after finding her groove with a string of pars to get the round going, Hargens said everything else just fell into place.
Golf, though, is a relatively new game for Hargens, who had never played the sport until the summer after her freshman year at Kennedy High School. Her dad convinced her to pick up the game just for fun, and Hargens instantly fell in love with it.
“My dad was like, ‘Hey, come outside. Let’s go play some golf,’” Hargens said. “I was just whacking it around pretty far, and he told me that if I played, I’d be on varsity and I’d be pretty good. And I did.”
The number of participants in this year’s City Amateur, though, was tiny. Only 16 people participated among all three divisions — and only five entered the open division. Marsi Pedelty led the way in the Senior division, shooting 84 and 87 for a combined total of 171. Kathy Gritton took the Silver Senior division, shooting an 82 and 91 for a combined score of 173.
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And while many might assume by looking at the number of golfers in the tournament that golf in the area has taken a hit, Ellis Golf Course Pro Mark McMahon said that’s not the case. It’s not a local issue, but rather a national one.
“Across the board, competitive golf for women, and for men for that matter, has declined,” McMahon said. “Even when you look at the Iowa Golf Association stuff, their numbers are dropping. The baby boomers, they used to play a lot of competitive golf. They’re starting to not play as much. It’s more of a national trend than just a local thing.”
Hargens said she is competing in several other tournaments and qualifiers this summer before she heads back to Indiana State to begin her sophomore season.
And while the victory in the city amateur isn’t a huge deal for her, Hargens said it’s all about experience. Simply playing competitive golf helps her game.
“This tournament is not important,” Hargens said. “It’s a good atmosphere to get out there, because I still get nervous out there. So it’s just good to work through that. Every shot counts out here, which is just good to play in that atmosphere.”