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Enstrom RMO increases number of participants, defying recent trend

Former Colorado Mesa golfer Brandon Bingaman will be one of 84 professionals teeing it up Friday through Sunday in the Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open. The tournament will be the pro debut for Bingaman.

Most of the reports are discouraging when Mike Mendelson hears what’s happening at other golf tournaments around the state. Participation continues to decline, sometimes dramatically when viewed over the course of several years.

So, having seven more golfers at this year’s 75th annual Enstrom Rocky Mountain Open may not be an earth-shattering increase, but it defies the trend, and, “That’s huge,” Mendelson said.

As of Tuesday, Mendelson said 210 players were signed up to play the RMO, which runs Friday through Sunday and is played at Bookcliff Country Club and Tiara Rado Golf Course, one of the courses Mendelson oversees as the head golf professional for the city of Grand Junction.

“We have had more players than this,” Mendelson said, “but for the last few years, this is as high as it’s been.”

The tourney made a major change this year, too. The three-day grind will be limited to the top divisions: pro; senior pro; and open amateur, which requires a handicap of 3.0 or lower. The other amateur divisions will play Friday and Saturday.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get away for three days,” Mendelson said. “Also, we wanted to lower the entry fee a bit for the amateurs.”

The amateur entry fee for the two-day players is $130, down from about $185, Mendelson said.

Many of the amateurs used to finish their round Sunday, then hurry over to the course where the pros were playing to watch the finish, Mendelson said. Now, they can relax and spectate Sunday, which Mendelson hopes will add to the galleries on the course and spectators at the finish.

The field of 84 professionals will feature a number of former RMO champions, such as Dustin Pimm, Stephen Schneiter, Kyle Daniell, Monte Montgomery and Scott Peterson.

Nine senior pros are signed up, among them Jack Sommers, a previous RMO pro division winner, and defending senior champ Jim Blair.

Last year’s open amateur champion, Brandon Bingaman, will play again this year, but he won’t defend his title. The former Colorado Mesa University standout, fresh off graduating in May, will make his pro debut at the RMO, Mendelson said.

That leaves the open amateur title up for grabs, and many college golfers with ties to the area and some of the top high school players in the area will be in the field of 58. Among them are: CMU’s Sean Robbins, who made a run at the title last year; CMU assistant golf coach Scott Sullivan, who also will be vying for the senior amateur title; Grand Junction High School’s Donny Kinnaman, who placed fourth at the Class 5A state meet as a sophomore last fall; Palisade High’s Skyler Miller, a Class 4A state qualifier last year; Fruita Monument alum Joey Saad, who plays for Dominican University in California; and Montrose’s Drew Trujillo, a member of the University of Colorado men’s golf team.

One woman signed up to play the in the open amateur: Melissa Martin, a Central alum who won the 2013 CWGA Stroke Play Championship in late June.

Joining Sullivan as contenders in the senior open amateur will be Matt Hall and Gary Carpendale, who makes his way to the Western Slope a couple times each summer from Las Vegas, Nev.

“I think the field is one of the most competitive we’ve thrown out there in a lot of divisions,” Mendelson said.

The pros and senior pros will play Bookcliff Country Club on Friday, Tiara Rado on Saturday and return to Bookcliff for Sunday’s final round.


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