I started playing golf on my 10th birthday. Wearing sneakers and both of my Little Little baseball batting gloves, I fell in love with golf the first time I smacked a tee shot right down the middle of the fairway.
My dad was always a big golfer and enjoyed playing with his friends. They would go to these fancy tournaments he’d talk about later on, and I’ll never forget the first time he invited me along.
It was a weekend event in Ocean Shores and I realized a lot of the players were longtime best friends of his. These were the same people we’d go to the lake with on the Fourth of July every year.
I came away from that trip with a very clear goal: I wanted to do this exact same thing with my friends when we got older.
I started the Roughrider Invitational in the summer of 2001, one year after we graduated from high school. We had 8 players that first year and played in 2-person teams. From the beginning, I wanted to grow this tournament into something special. Something everyone would circle on the calendars each summer. Something that mattered for all the right reasons.
In 2023, we’ll host our 18th annual golf tournament with the standard 60-player field. The Roughrider is now one of my favorite days of the year—and I’m not alone in thinking this.
My dad’s friends were so official with their golf tournaments that they actually had a name for their group of players: the Crowfessional Golf Association, or the CGA. Better known as just “the Crows,” this lovable group of Kitsap County faithful was all about good times, cold cocktails, great friendships, and maybe even some decent golf.
Their stories are legendary, like the time Gordy chunked his playoff chip shot so badly that he had to ask where the ball went. Turns out he missed the ball completely and his grass divot had covered the ball right where it had started.
Even as a teenager, I was so inspired by what these old farts were doing that I wanted the same thing for my group of friends.
Growing up in the Snoqualmie Valley, my friends all played sports together as youngsters and sampled all of the things teenagers probably shouldn’t. We definitely caused our fair share of trouble, and if I’m being honest we generally acted like a bunch of small-town butt heads. We called ourselves the “Roughriders.”
The band broke up after graduation, which is exactly why my new golf tournament was such a big hit. This was our chance to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company for an afternoon. The first event was a blast, so we did it again. And again. And again.
Almost 20 years later, the Roughrider Invitational has blossomed into a summer staple. My high school friends are still there, but now we’ve got friends of friends playing and it’s just a thing people know happens every August. It’s consistent. It’s comforting. And I am so very, very proud of it.
Summers in Seattle are all about getting outside. I love this golf tournament because it’s one day a year where we can see familiar faces and rock out together. Golf is great, but it’s the camaraderie that makes the Roughrider special.
Here’s to the next 20 years!
2022 – Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Ben Emerson, Joe Taklo, Zach Simpson, Forrest Solomon
2021 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Richard Belt, Doug Ray, Lenny Toyne, Jeff Jensen
2020 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Ben Brackett (2), Woody Braden, David Knapp, Kerry Wake
2019 – Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Keith Schneider, Tom Carroll, Nathan Moss, Walt Cronk
2018 – Maplewood Golf Course (Lone Ranger)
- Jeff Robinson, Mark Shamion, Bob Crookshank, Al Atiz
2017 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Joe Hudson (2), Lorraine Hudson (2), Geoff Tompkins, Norma Jones
2016 – Lake Chelan Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Derek Belt (2), Jeff Beckmann (2), Kasey Frazier (3), Chris Emerson
2015 – Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Derek Belt, Jeff Beckmann, Kasey Frazier (2), Greg Beckmann
2014 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Jubal Flagg (3), John Heffernan (2), Brian Perkins (2), Kjell Elmer (2)
2013 – Maplewood Golf Course (Lone Ranger)
- Jubal Flagg (2), Kyle Klube, Jimmy Blais, Erik Severson
2012 – Jefferson Park Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Joe Hudson, Lorraine Hudson, Noah Hostetler, Colin Skone
2011 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Stuart Faris (2), AJ Shepard (2), Chris Shepard (2), Jacob Beck (2)
2010 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Stuart Faris, AJ Shepard, Chris Shepard, Jacob Beck
2009 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Jubal Flagg, John Heffernan, Brian Perkins, Kjell Elmer
2008 – Maplewood Golf Course (4-Person Scramble)
- Andrew Ahmadi, Kasey Frazier, Ben Brackett, Omar Bushnaq
2004-2007 – No tournaments
2003 – Taylor Creek Golf Course (2-Person Scramble)
- Seth Holub, Evan Terbrueggen