Gordon Skaar, a member of Bemidji State's NSIC championship men's golf team, is the grandson of longtime BSU Athletics supporter Gordy Skaar. Gordon and his older brother Ben have both played golf for the Beavers. (Micah Friez / Bemidji State)
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By Micah Friez

Published 1:09 p.m. on June 21, 2023

When Gordy Skaar organized a golf fundraiser for Bemidji State Athletics in 1977, he knew it could benefit BSU student-athletes.

But he had no idea that his legacy would one day help his own future grandchildren in the same way.

“He loved people, and he loved to invest in Bemidji State and the town,” said Gordon Skaar, Gordy’s grandson and a member of BSU’s NSIC championship men’s golf team. “He loved to invest in other people, and especially Bemidji State Athletics. Now we’ve got this good fundraiser for that.”

The Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament had its 46th annual iteration on Friday, June 16, when over 100 golfers teed off in support of the Beavers at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. Together, they raised $44,000 for athletic scholarships.

Jordan Anderson, left, Connor Laird, right, and Jake Sobieck celebrate after Anderson sunk a long putt on No. 15 during the 46th annual Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 16, 2023, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Micah Friez / Bemidji State)

“Every dollar and every cent that we can bring in goes to our student-athletes and puts us in a better competitive situation,” BSU director of athletics Britt Lauritsen said. “In the Northern Sun, the CCHA, the WCHA – whatever league it is – we are always fighting to make sure we stay on the competitive cusp. Scholarship dollars are more important now than ever, and we’ve got to stay in a place where we continue to grow and move forward and not fall behind.”

Originally founded as the Skaar-Pabst Golf Tournament, the Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament is Bemidji State’s longest-running golf fundraiser. It has raised more than $900,000 since its inception, with proceeds supporting scholarships through the Beaver Pride Fund and the Gordy Skaar Memorial endowment.

The First National Bank team of Bob Brink, Russ Moen, Joe Moosbrugger, Bill Muller and Ryan Welle claimed first place at this year’s event, carding a score of 23-under-par in the best-ball format and outlasting 25 other teams.

Jean Baer tees off on No. 2 in hopes of hitting a hole in one and winning a car from Dondelinger GM of Bemidji during the 46th annual Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 16, 2023, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Micah Friez / Bemidji State)

What began with Gordy Skaar in the 1970s has now boomed into an annual tradition and an army of supporters who play a role in it.

“To see all the people out here to support us and support the school, it’s super special,” said Gordon Skaar. “Being here over the years has been awesome because I’ve gotten to know so many people, and so many people know me. They come up to me like, ‘I knew your grandpa. He was super special.’ To hear all those stories has been really cool.”

Gordon never got to meet his grandfather; Gordy Skaar died in 1992, and Gordon was born in 2001. But Gordon felt a strong connection to BSU when it was time to make a collegiate decision. He ultimately made the same decision as his older brother Ben, who golfed at Bemidji State from 2015-18, and the two stand as the latest generation of Beaver golfers in the Skaar family.

“My family has gone here, and my family is from around here. I was like, ‘It feels fitting to go here,’” Gordon said. “The Lord led me here, and I’m really thankful that I was able to have all these connections to compete here and do my schooling here. It’s a family thing.”

Jesse MacDonald chips onto the 16th green during the 46th annual Gordy Skaar Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, June 16, 2023, at the Bemidji Town and Country Club. (Micah Friez / Bemidji State)

Gordon Skaar has been roaming the Bemidji Town and Country Club since he could walk, and he’s been attending the Skaar just as long. For Lauritsen, meanwhile, the Skaar is one of the final checkpoints before finishing her first year as athletic director.

“Being able to see how much fun we can provide, that’s really the best part of it,” she said. “For our student-athletes, when they are having fun playing their sport and enjoying their experience, that’s my favorite part of my job. But for our alumni and supporters, seeing them out here and having a good time, that’s so worth it too. These things are my favorite.”

After just two years at BSU, Gordon Skaar earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management this spring. Starting in the fall, he’ll pursue a master’s degree in sport ministry at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul while golfing for the Eagles.

And he’ll have a championship ring to carry with him. When the Beavers claimed the NSIC championship in April, Gordon and his teammates celebrated an accomplishment that the program hadn’t seen since 2000. Yet Gordy Skaar envisioned this kind of success all along.

“It was a blast,” Gordon said of winning the title. “We knew we were good and we knew we were super deep. Whoever was out there, we had confidence to win the conference this year. To experience that and get the ring was really special.”

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