Honored to play and host: Two local golfers compete in CGA Mid-Am Championship

Haymaker Golf Course played host to 84 of Colorado's best golfers in the CGA Mid-Am Championship from Friday through Sunday.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Local golfers understand the magnificence and beauty of a Steamboat Springs golf course, but so many Colorado residents have never had the same opportunity until this weekend. 

Last fall, the Colorado Golf Association reached out to Haymaker Golf Course and requested to host its 2023 Mid-Amateur Championships at the course. Haymaker’s Head Golf Pro, Cody Hasten, agreed to the request and was also granted two slots for local golfers to compete. 

Those two golfers were Ben Johnson and Michael Feyen, who finished first and second in the previous weekend’s Steamboat Springs City Championship tournament. 

Johnson and Feyen said they were honored to be chosen as the two local competitors in the tournament and even offered advice to incomers on the best spots in town for food, drinks and leaf peeping. 

“Obviously, Ben and I are here as players and we are representing Haymaker, but we are also hosts,” Feyen said. “Three-quarters of the people I have talked to have never been to Steamboat.”

In a field of 84, only 40 advanced to Sunday’s third and final round. Both Johnson and Feyen were able to make their way inside the cut of plus-12 and better. 

As Feyen came up to his final two holes Saturday, a birdie was required to advance. He drove the green on the No. 8 hole, which was his 17th of the day, and later sunk his birdie putt. Feyen was the last qualifier for Sunday, shooting 12-over. 

Johnson managed to shoot just two strokes over par Friday, and despite his six-over on Saturday, he advanced into Sunday’s round with four strokes of leeway at eight-over.

Johnson struggled in Sunday’s round and finished 43rd overall, 23 strokes over par for the tournament. Feyen made up several spots and placed 29th on the back of his one-under round on Sunday, putting him just 11 over in the tournament.

According to Feyen, as advantageous as it was to compete on a course he has played countless times in the past, the maintenance was done in such a way to make the course more challenging. He compared the greens to putting on linoleum and thought the challenging pin locations created a threat for any top golfer. 

“We have the best golfers in Colorado here and the course is holding up great,” Feyen said. “No one has come out here and shot a 63. Haymaker is a championship course and the scores reflect it.”

Beyond the greens, the wind also played a major factor. The gusts pushed and pulled balls soaring through the sky in awkward directions. Reading the wind became a serious task. 

Haymaker is an open links course, which Feyen compared to courses in Scotland. It was designed to play that way.

“The wind today got into my head pretty quickly and that was a tough battle there for a while,” Johnson said. “I would say my mental strength was more resilient (Saturday) because it never does me any good to be negative on myself when times are tough.”

Having previously hosted the CGA Mid-Am Championship in 2003, this was Haymaker’s second time with the event. Colorado has over 300 public golf courses to choose from, and Feyen thought it was incredible for the tournament to come to town. 

“I hope they don’t wait 20 more years to do this again,” Feyen said. “It is a great golf community.”

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