Columbus, Neb. – A golf event with an educational purpose returns next Thursday, when the 23rd annual Wells Fargo Nebraska Open tees off at the Elks Country Club in Columbus.
This annual event kicks off at noon with the annual Pro-Am event that raises money for scholarships awarded to students attending one of Nebraska’s community colleges in Nebraska Public Power District’s service territory. It is anticipated that more than $75,000 in scholarship money will be presented to the Central Community College Foundation this year from this year’s tournament.
Scholarships are distributed to 11 community campuses in the Central, Mid-Plains, Southeast, Northeast, and Western Community College Systems. Each year, sponsorship money and entry fees from golfers are divided between the tournament purse and the Community College Foundation.
“It is a tremendous event that provides opportunities for students attending Nebraska Community Colleges to get an education, stay in the state, and earn a living in professional and rewarding careers,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope.
According to the CEO of the Nebraska Section of the PGA, David Honnens, “Golf professionals from across the United States come to Columbus every year to play in the Wells Fargo Nebraska Open. Not only is the tournament known for its solid reputation and challenging competition, it is also the largest golf event in the state of Nebraska.”
The event is a stepping stone to professional careers, with 2010 and 2011 champion Peter Malnati currently ranked 178th on the PGA Tour. Past champions Jim White (2005), Justin Herron (2006), Nick Mason (2007) and Wil Collins (2012), are expected to participate. Nebraskan’s Scott Gutschewski and Steve Friesen, who have won championships on the Web.Com tour, will also be competing.
Endorsed and administered by the Nebraska Section of the PGA and the Nebraska Golf Association, the 54-hole tournament is conducted with an anticipated purse of over $70,000 for a field of PGA of America members, apprentices, other professionals. The tournament also includes a potential $3,000 purse for amateurs. The Elks Club has hosted the event since 1992.
More than 50 businesses are sponsoring this year’s event, with many participating in Thursday’s 18-hole pro-am scramble with professional golfers.
Wells Fargo returns for the eleventh year as the title sponsor, along with national, regional, and Columbus-area companies such as Behlen Mfg. Co., Curry Relocation Co., Eakes Office Plus, Kelly Supply Co., Nebraska Energy Federal Credit Union, U.S. Bank, Pinnacle Bank-Columbus, Hughes Brothers, and Ernst Auto Center and Ernst Toyota.
The three-day professional-amateur tournament begins on Friday, Sept. 12 and concludes Sunday. Play begins at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday and at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Last year, Ryan Dillon of New River, Ariz. came from behind on the strength of six birdies, including one on the final hole, to win the 2013 event. Paul Mohr of Scottsbluff captured the amateur division and Jim White of Lincoln captured the senior professional division.