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Home / Volunteers help Greater C.R. Open reach tee
MARION — Mostly clear forecasts with temperatures in the 80s are providing the Hunters Ridge community an opportunity to host the 22nd Greater Cedar Rapids Open this week after missing the 2020 event due to the pandemic.
“The fact that we’re getting back to some sort of new normalcy,” said Cindy Bender, a resident of Hunters Ridge and longtime volunteer for the tournament. “Seeing these guys get back to what they love to do and giving them a chance to excel at it.”
Most of the golfers stay with host families in the community, including the Benders. Something that creates lifelong bonds and cheering sections for the week.
“Usually the guy that I house,” Bender said when asked if she has a favorite. “We like the camaraderie and seeing these young golfers and their potential.”
And getting assigned to the Bender residence isn’t a bad deal at all. In 2019, the last time the event was held, Bender and her family housed Dan Woltman and Sam Cyr, who finished first with a 12-under 204 and in a tie for third with an 8-under 208, respectively.
“The golfers really show their appreciation,” said Shelley Evans, fellow volunteer and community resident. “They love coming here and that enables the event to occur every year.”
Not only is the 54-hole professional tournament that runs Thursday through Saturday an opportunity for one young golfer to leave Cedar Rapids with a $30,000 check, Tuesday and Wednesday featured pro/ams and children’s clinics that allowed the entire community to get involved.
“I work indoors but I love the outdoors,” said Michael Cox, who owns Karde’s 151 Truck Stop at exit 63, off 151 in Monticello.
His business has been a guest for several years of their vendor, Farner-Bocken, a sponsor of the tournament. This year Cox decided his family would become a sponsor itself.
“I’m not that good of a golfer, but my goals are to have fun and socialize with our friends and colleagues,” Cox said. “Life is short and there is very little time to enjoy things in life like this. We get to bond and have camaraderie between workers, because we are always working. It’s nice to get out and enjoy ourselves. It’s very important for that.”
Cox’ foursome included his brother Dean, his nephew Micheal Bohlken and PJ McInerney, a family-friend from Cedar Rapids.
With the pre-tournament festivities complete, the field will begin play at 7 a.m. Thursday with notables like Smylie Kaufman and Michael Visacki vying for the jumbo cardboard check.
Kaufman has 92 career starts on the PGA Tour, including a final round pairing with Jordan Spieth at the 2016 Masters. Visacki, dubbed “the mini-tour legend,” went viral earlier this year after qualifying for his first PGA event.