Viroqua’s golf course is gearing up for its annual tournament.

The Viroqua Hills Golf Course, in its 48th annual installment, hosts the Viroqua Men’s Open Saturday and Sunday. A full roster of 192 players are registered to play in the two-day, 36-hole tournament. That number includes 70 of the course’s members.

Ryan Nedland, the course’s professional, said men aged 18 and older are qualified to participate. He said the oldest participants are nearly 80 years old and players come from all over the United States, including Texas, Georgia and California.

Established in 1969 by Roger Adel and Art Bronson, the Viroqua Open has been a staple of the local sports scene for decades. Nedland, before becoming the course’s pro, said he partook in the tournament’s game play the summer after his high school graduation.

The course becomes an energetic playing field this weekend, Nedland said, with dozens of spectators coming to watch the action and cheer on friends and family.

He said many players return for the tournament year after year.

“For a lot of people, it’s kind of like a mini-reunion,” Nedland said. “The atmosphere is exciting.”

Viroqua Hills members pay a $65 registration fee; non-members pay $90.

After the first day of gameplay, participants are organized into groups, or “flights,” depending on their skill level. Nedland said that makes the tournament accessible to all men, including beginners, because it evens out the playing field.

“The tournament does cater to all skill levels because it’s flighted after the first round,” Nedland said.

Winners of each flight earn cash prizes, including $400 and a trophy for the winner of the championship flight. Last year, Madison resident Garrett Jones took home first place in the championship flight with a score of 136.

Par score for the open’s two rounds is 142.

Players on the course Aug. 4 described Viroqua Hills as one of the top courses in the area.

La Crosse resident Dennis Dorman and Stoddard resident Jim Kwiatowski spoke to the Broadcaster as they played through the front nine. It was a warm and breezy summer day with blue skies and the occasional puffs of bright-white clouds.

“It’s one of the top five (golf courses in the region),” Dorman said, “and there’s some great courses in the area.”

Kwiatowski said the quality of the course’s maintenance sets Viroqua Hills apart from other alternative locations around the Driftless.

“Great golf course – nice shape,” Kwiatowski said. “Tough greens.”

Dorman and Kwiatowski agreed on the course’s premiere hole – the 11th hole, with its vista overlooking part of the back nine and 90-foot drop off from the tees down to the fairway.

Registration is closed for the tournament, but spectators are encouraged to view the action as it unfolds this weekend. The first tee-time is 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.

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