It was 14 years ago that Canadian Pro Golf Tour player Stuart Hendley approached Red Deer Golf and Country Club head pro Ken Frame with a unique proposition.
“Stuart and I had befriended each other and one day he came to me and said ‘Geez, we should do a skins game here. It’s such an awesome golf course,’” Frame reminisced Friday.
“I said, ‘Yes, I’d love to do it, so how do we start?’ He said ‘I’ll get the players, you do everything else.’ Everything else included lot of organization, but we took on the challenge and got things going initially and it’s kind of grown from there. Each year it gets a bit bigger and better.”
These days, Frame lines up the players and for this year’s 15th Annual RDG&CC Skins Game, set for Tuesday, he has four returning competitors in RDG&CC associate professional Roy Hide, PGA Tour Canada players Mike Mezei, James Lepp and Steven Lecuyer, and another PGA Tour Canada member in Red Deer native Mitch Evanecz.
“You don’t necessarily get the players you want because you’re not in control of their schedules,” said Frame. “But we’ve been pretty fortunate that way through the years.”
The biggest name to play in the Skins Game since its inception is Graham DeLaet, who pretty much cleaned up while participating in the 2008 and ‘09 events and is now a rising star on the PGA Tour and the world’s 35th-ranked player.
Lethbridge native Mezei won the Canadian junior championship in 2000, was the top-ranked amateur in Canada in 2002 and has chalked up one win — the 2007 Winnipeg Free Press Classic — on the PGA Tour Canada, formerly the Canadian Pro Tour.
Evanecz, meanwhile, has played two years on the PGA Tour Canada, is a two-time winner of the prestigious Calgary Glencoe Invitational and won the 2009 Alberta amateur title.
“Mitch hasn’t been able to work us into his schedule in recent years, but he’s here this year and we’re really glad to have him,” said Frame. “Obviously, he was a junior here at our club in years gone by and he’s a Red Deer boy and a Red Deer Golf and Country Club boy.”
Lepp, who took top honours in the Skins Game last year, is well-known for his role in the Golf Channel series Big Break NFL. He’s also a two-time winner on the PGA Tour Canada and was a four-time All American at the University of Washington.
Lecuyer, who hails from Grimshaw, made four of nine cuts on the PGA Tour Canada last year, was a force in the U.S. college ranks and won the 2010 Alberta Amateur.
The RDG&CC Skins Game has proven to be a popular draw over the years, although Frame would like to see the crowd multiply three to five times in size.
“We get 200 to 300 people and I would like to get more than that,” he said. “It would be nice to have 1,000 to 1,500 people lining the fairways, but that won’t happen until we get a real big name. I email Graham DeLaet’s manager every year. He said he’s coming back some year, but we’ll have to see.”
The nine-hole Skins Game, played this year on the front nine at the RDG&CC and presented by Silverberg Group and a long list of fellow sponsors, starts at 5 p.m.
Spectators will be served complimentary hamburgers and pizza at 4 p.m.