Count Arrowhead County Club head golf professional Gary Metzger and the many rally-goers in the area hoping for warm, dry weather in the coming days.
Not very often do you hear a club professional hope his course will dry out, but that is what Metzger is asking as the 39th annual Arrowhead Pro-Am gets ready to take course on Wednesday.
Though recent rains haven't been heavy, they have brought enough moisture to the course at Arrowhead to keep it soft. That could lead to some low scores.
"I'm hoping the weather changes and the course dries out a little bit," Metzger said last week. "When the golf course stays as wet as it is with the rain, it plays so much easier for these guys. They might push a shot a little bit, but it stays in the fairway. If it's firmer and faster, it might run into the rough and get into trouble."
A soft course may help one of the 72 professionals make a run at the tournament-record 193 posted by 2003 champion Brian Kortan.
Some familiar names could be among the pros making that run.
Paul Wackerly has had the hot hand on the Dakotas Tour this year. In eight Dakotas Tour stops, Wackerly has not finished outside of the top five. He has won three events - the Moccasin Creek Pro-Am at Aberdeen, the Spencer, Iowa, Pro-Member and the Silver Dollar-South Dakota Open at Vermillion.
Wackerly is far and away the leading money winner on the tour this year, having pocketed $16,975. Second place belongs to James Kureluk, another Arrowhead entrant. Kureluk has won $3,838 so far in 2004 on the Dakotas Tour.
"Paul's been playing very well on the Dakotas Tour this year," Metzger said.
A second golfer to watch is two-time champion Jeff Klein. The 2002 Arrowhead champ is coming off a win at the Colorado Open a week ago. He also has a history of playing well at Arrowhead.
Wil Collins, who had a strong final day before finishing second to Kortan last year, is playing a Nationwide Tour qualifier at Springfield, Mo., today. If he doesn't make the field for the Price Cutter Charity Championship, Collins plans on returning to Rapid City to play at Arrowhead.
Others who could be in the mix are Arrowhead assistant golf pro Jeff Salter, who led after two days during the 2002 tournament, and Jeff LeMaster, who has played in this tournament several times and knows the course very well.
"On this golf course, it's going be the person who has the hot putter and can get up and down around the greens," Metzger said. "Some of the people who have played here know the greens well enough that they may have a little advantage. There's quite a bit of undulation, so they've got to have the speed down."
Kortan, who won the pro division by five shots in 2003, will not be back to defend his championship from a year ago.
Not to be overlooked by a fine professional field is a group of amateurs that Metzger said is among the best in recent memory.
Defending champion Tyler Rachetto, who posted a 212 to win the amateur division in 2003, is back. Other possible contenders include a group of Rapid City golfers who know Arrowhead well, among them Geoff Mead, Kevin Buntrock, Steve Beardsley and Hugh Welsh.
"I think we have one of our stronger amateur fields this year," Metzger said. "I look for quite a shootout the third day for the amateurs. It should come right down to the wire."
Professional golfers start their stay in Rapid City on Tuesday with play at the Red Rock Pro. That one-day Dakotas Tour tournament, which is in its second year, begins competition at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Golf Club at Red Rock.
The Arrowhead Pro-Am gets underway Wednesday morning with the Sponsor Day Shootout at 8:30 a.m. On Thursday and Friday, the morning flight of the main pro-am tournament tees off at 7 a.m. with the afternoon flight following at 11:30 a.m. The McKie Platinum Shootout, which expanded to 24 teams this year, starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The tournament wraps up with Saturday's final round. The amateurs start the third day of play at 7 a.m. The professionals begin at 10:50 a.m.
"We've got a really good field coming this year," Metzger said. "We've got 72 pros and 126 amateurs, so we've got a full field. We've got a lot of fresh names coming and a lot of repeat players coming, too. It should be a lot of fun."
2004 Arrowhead Pro-Am
Ty Armstrong, Chris Baisch, Mike Berg, Patrick Beste, James Blair, Boyd Brown, Andrew Buckle, Brennan Cecka, Garrett Clegg, James Coleman, Wil Collins, Brian Dillon, Doug Dunwoody, Doug Ferris, Chad Gatlin, Jeremy Glanzer, Stephen Gordon, Brent Grosz, Brad Hale, J.R. Hamblet, Billy Harvey, Steve Hay, Fred Hecker, Eddie Heinen, Jason Hickman, Kevin Hoffer, Dave Isaacson, Randy Jewell, Jay Jurecic, Walter Keating, Jeff Klein, Jamie Kureluk, Derick Lamely, Ryan Lanzen, Trevor Larson, Jeff LeMaster, Mike Louden, Grant Maples, Rob Maybaum, James McCarthy, Ian Medlock, T.J. Meyer, Ben Meyers, Ryan Nietfeldt, Greg Petersen, Mike Plate, Jeff Powell, Craig Reed, Aaron Roeber, Johnnie Sack, Jeff Salter, Jason Schmidt, Jason Sigler, Tom Silva, Jared Smith, Mike Stolarsky, Luke Swilor, Jason Thompson, Mike Troyer, Wes Tuck, Jeff Tyrell, Mike Urbatchka, Mike Vance, Ryan Vermeer, Steve Voinovich, Paul Wackerly, Scott Walker, Brett Wayment, Marcus Wheelhouse.
Stanton Anker, Dan Ashmore, Mark Bachman, Arthur Barrett, Kathryn Barrett, Rich Baumann, Steve Beardsley, Greg Benning, Scott Benson, John Brewer, Jay Brewster, Betsy Brown, Jerry Brown, Kent Brugger, Kevin Buntrock, Pat Burchill, James Burke, Don Burns, Dave Butler, Wally Byrne, Randy Cariveau, Dennis Casey, Sean Casey, Todd Christensen, Ron Clabaugh, Courtney Clayborne, Kathy Cline, Len Collins, Steve Conzet, Dan Corey, Rod Cowling, Jack Delaney, Mike Derby, David Dick, John Dorsey, Lisa Dorsey, James Dyk, Chuck Farrar, Kelly Farrar, Jerry Finn, Jerry Fisher, Bob Folsland, Jeff Fullerton, Cal Fuss, Bob Geis, Frank Gentry, Mark Gentry, Jody Gittings, Dominic Gusso, T.J. Gusso, Dustin Hamilton, Randy Harms, Jim Hawke, Gene Hensley, Paul Hermanson, David Hoffman, Tom Houghton Sr., Todd Houghton, Tom Houghton, Rich Huffman, Mike Jacobs, Ed James, Rob James, Tom Johnson, Ron Junek, Ryan Junek, Jim Klinefelter, Phil Koehler, Gary Larson, Charlie Loos, Jack Lynass, Duncan McRae, Geoff Mead, Steve Mentele, Karim Meralli, Trevor Messinger, Paul Mohr, Don Morrison, Kent Mundon, Doug Murphy, Mike Nicols, Tom Odom, Harry Orville, Glenn Parsons, Ryne Paulson, Bob Powles, Tyler Rachetto, Don Ravellette, Bob Roland, Ross Roll, D.J. Rush, Rick Rylance, Dave Salter, Jim Scoular, Jay Segrist, Tom Simmons, Todd Sisson, Brad Slater, Dwight Sobczak, Ray Spellman, Bill Stangerone, Dave Stebbins, Craig Steinman, Matt Stone, Ray Strand, Greg Strommen, Hank Tanner, Bob Thorson, Mark Treadwell, Tom Trewick, Mike Trompeter, David Wallace, Troy Ward, Hugh Welsh, Jim Wilber, Todd Wiles, Rick Witt, Pat Wyss.