Cowboy Joe Club weekend in Evanston a fun success

EVANSTON — Cowboy Joe rode into town last Friday and, while the final numbers are not yet available, all signs point to another successful weekend for the Evanston and Uinta County branch of the fundraising organization to benefit University of Wyoming student-athletes “in the classroom, in competition and in life.”  

“We still have outstanding funds which need to be collected and we need to ensure all of our expenses are covered,” local chapter president Mick Kindler told the Herald. 

“Last year our contribution was $21,000.”

The golf series originated in Evanston in the mid-1980s with Dave Madia and Pat Mulhall spearheading the efforts with help from committee members such as Russ Anderson. The series currently has 12 dates all across Wyoming from May through July and even a golf outing in Denver. 

Evanston is unique on other fronts in that all of the other events of the series are organized and orchestrated by the Cowboy Joe Club itself. In Evanston, however, a local volunteer committee of Cowboy Joe Club members stages the events from the Friday evening social, auction and golf tournament calcutta to the tournament, awards and luncheon on Saturday, with assistance from Cowboy Joe officials, Purple Sage Golf Course staff and management, Lincoln Highway Tavern and the Gateway Grill. 

In addition, in the other golf tournaments, the teams are put together by the players themselves, more often than not, resulting in the stacked teams with the same players attending the Cowboy Joe Club championship tournament where the winning teams from each community square off, which coincides with an early season Wyoming Cowboy football game. 

In Evanston, the teams are selected by the local committee by golf handicaps, making for a more competitive event.

Cowboy Joe Club officials such as senior associate athletic director Randy Welniak made the journey to Evanston as they always do, but a surprise guest highlighted the Friday evening festivities when Cowgirl head basketball coach Joe Legerski entered the Evanston Machine Shop.

“That was a great and a very welcome surprise,” Kindler added. 

“What I found amazing was that coach Lergerski spoke without a microphone and it was silent. He had the whole crowd.”

Kindler explained that steps were taken this year to make Friday evening more of a stand-alone event, noting that not everyone is interested in golf.

“We called it ‘fan fusion’ this year and I believe it resulted in 20 to 25 more people taking part in supporting the Cowboy Joe Club outside of the golf tournament,” Kindler said.

18 foursomes teed-off in a scramble format shotgun-start on Saturday morning for the annual tournament, armed with the knowledge that the top three teams would compete for the local championship in a playoff, as in years past, regardless of whether a team’s score won the tournament outright after 18 holes. The competition was fierce as the low score was 60 and the high score was 73, with most teams placing in the 60s. 

The team of Chris Gerrard, Wendy Schuler, John Davis and Chris Eastman posted the best round with a score of 60. Also qualifying for the playoff with a team score of 61 was the team comprised of Steve Henderson, Matt Larsen, Kelly Shelton and Russ Anderson. The third and final playoff-bound team was also separated by just one stroke. Coming in with a team score of 62 was Austin Moore, Juan Rendon, Justin Davis and Candy Jureck. And the sudden-death playoff was all set.

It didn’t take long, as, on hole number-one, the first playoff hole, Henderson drained an approximate 20-foot put for birdie while the best the other two teams could manage was par.

But it wasn’t over yet, as this year, for the first time ever, Evanston would qualify two teams to take part in the Cowboy Joe Club tournament of champions on August 31, prior to the home-opener with Washington State on Sept.1. 

With nothing decided after three-holes of sudden-death, the two teams vying for second-place went to hole-17 with a closest-to-the-pin competition to decide the victor. Rendon stuck one on the par-three green quite close but was bested by John Davis.

Joy Walton, who is on the statewide Cowboy Joe Club board of directors along with Denny Wallace, also worked tirelessly leading up to the weekend and during the Friday and Saturday festivities, alongside Kindler in local leadership roles for the volunteers in the Evanston area. 

Kindler summed up the events with its 30-year-plus history by adding,  

“It’s really the one time of the year that the University of Wyoming really reaches out to this corner of the state and Evanston in particular. Whether people are just coming out for a great time or to support the University of Wyoming and the Cowboy Joe Club or both, I think it’s just a fantastic event for the Evanston area.”

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