'Friendships, that’s what it’s really all about': 50th anniversary of golf tournament celebrates camaraderie
WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK, ALTA. -- On a day filled with smoke from forest fires in California and Oregon, Waterton Lakes National Park might not be seeing the usually tourists draw it does. However, for one golf group, they play on, rain or shine, or even smoke in the annual Chenson Invitational Tournament.
“Enjoying every moment of it because we can’t not show to see our friends,” said tournament participant Joe Hautzinger.
The tournament had 14 players participating this year. Cash is on the line, however, that’s not what’s on most golfers' minds when they make their way down for the multiday tournament at Waterton Lakes Golf Course.
“Not very many of us are expecting to do wonderful things on the golf course. But we are expecting to do wonderful things side-by-side in the lunchroom. Talk and remember and remind each other of what has gone on” said Hautzinger.
The tournament was first played in 1970 with the humblest of beginnings.
“My friend had a cabin in Waterton and he invited down for game over a weekend or few games. From that it started up we had three people, then on the fourth, we had eight and then we decided to call it the Chenson Invitational” said tournament organizer Harley Johnson.
The tournament has no shortage of fun. Hautzinger surprised everyone with 50th-anniversary putters. Participants including Johnson and Hautzinger joke that they may be getting older they can all still chirp each other.
Many of them are in their 60s and 70s, with the oldest this year being Hautzinger at 82. Players have come from all over, to compete in the Chenson Invitational. The farthest being Australia with one making their way from Alabama and others from the east coast of Canada. The tournament has seen up to 40 people in the past. Those competing are allowed to invite their friends to come in and join.
“Friendships, that’s what it’s really all about. We like to hit a ball good, sometimes we do, most times we don’t” said Johnson. “We have lost people along the way, very difficult when it does happen. These are real friends” said Johnson.
Which is why they feel every year is an important one and are very much optimistic about the future of the Chenson Invitational.
“We will probably have a 51st year,” said Johnson.