The ski slopes may be icy and treacherous, but the fairways are still clear.
Due to strangely warm winter weather conditions, the normal activities that consume Gallatin Valley residents are few and far between thus far this winter. Bohart Ranch cancelled its annual Nordic Ski Fest this past weekend. Bridger Bowl boasts just a 24-inch base of snow.
On the flip side, the above-freezing temperatures and afternoons filled with sunshine have made other outdoor activities possible. Dr. Mike Mattson of Three Forks decided that, since the Headwaters Golf Course in Three Forks is mostly devoid of snow, now is as good a time as any to have a January golf tournament.
The Three Forks physician has organized a match-play tournament scheduled for Saturday. He is billing it at the “Challenge Doctor Mike” tournament.
“The weather has just been so wacky and I saw some people the other day wearing shorts, so I figured we could probably play some golf too,” Mattson said with a chuckle on Monday afternoon.
The cost for the tournament is $25 and is open to all members of the public. The match-play formatted tournament will be 18 holes, with nine being played forward and nine being played backward. In other words, on the back nine, players will tee off from, for example, Hole No. 8 and hit toward the green of hole No. 7.
All participants will receive a loaf of bread from Wheat Montana even if they lose. Anyone who bests Mattson in the match-play competition will earn a share, or if only one wins, the entire pot of money pooled from the entries. Of the $25 entry fee, $18 will go to Headwaters. The rest will go into the prize money pot.
“I’m a really good golfer, but I’m beatable,” said Mattson, who wants to get his PGA golf pro card in the near future.
The tournament will begin at 11 a.m. and run until about 5 p.m. The forecast for Saturday is for temperatures in the mid 40s.
Participants can pay the entry fee on their own or can receive sponsorship from local businesses. Diamondback Golf of Bozeman is a sponsor of the event and will put on a free clinic at Headwaters Saturday. The Oasis Steakhouse in Manhattan has offered to provide a few steak dinners as prizes for competitions yet to be determined.
Mattson said he hopes people can come out, enjoy some sun, shake off some cabin fever and, if they’re lucky, give the local doc a run for his money on the links.
“I don’t care who you are, Tiger Woods, whatever, I think I can beat you,” Mattson said with a laugh. “If you think you can beat me, come on out. I dare you.”