Christensens compete in national golf tournament
Christensens finished in third place
Jason Groth
Last Updated: Saturday, September 24th, 2005 08:55:33 AM

It was a special time for Buzz Christensen and his son Matt Christensen as they participated in the 2005 Special Olympics National Invitational Golf Tournament in Ames, Iowa.
“For us it was a heck of an experience,” Buzz said. “We are privileged to be able to represent the Special Olympics of Itasca County and also the state of Minnesota.”
Athletes came from all over the United States as athletes from 29 states competed in the event. Matt was one of five athletes to be selected from Minnesota.
“We feel pretty lucky. We come from Area 3, which encompasses entire northeastern Minnesota, including Duluth,” Buzz said. “For us to represent this region was really quite a thrill and an experience he will never forgot nor will I.”
The event which took place on Sept. 16 through 19th at the Ames Golf and Country Club and the Coldwater Golf Links, opened up with an Olympic-style opening ceremony on the first day.
The Christensens shot an opening round score of 57. They followed that up with a 56 for their second round. They struggled through the second round where they weren’t hitting the ball well according to Buzz. They closed out the event with a final round score of 48 to stake claim to third place. The team that finished in first place was from the state of Maryland and the second place team was from South Carolina.
The Christensens competed in the Level 2 alternate shot competition. Throughout the tournament, Matt would tee off on one hole andBuzz would tee off on the following hole throughout the day. The alternate shot competition pairs the Special Olympics athlete with a non Special Olympics athlete of more advanced skill to compete in the nine-hole alternate shot competition.
Their success however didn’t come without some troubles as they struggled particularly on one par-5 hole on the course.
“There were a couple of holes that we had trouble with. One of the par-5’s we had a 9, an 8, and an 8,” Buzz said. “So that was the hardest hole for us. It was tree-lined all the way down the right-hand side and we couldn’t keep it in the fairway and the green was surrounded by water. So I hit in the water one day and Matt hit in the water the next day.”
They were able to rebound from that tough hole to take a strong third place finish. But they would like to head south to tackle that hole again.,
“We would like to get back there and play that hole to see if we can get a par there,” Buzz said.” It was a great course for this event. We had caddies, scorers, and they just treated us really well.”
Matt and his father have been competing at the state level for a couple of years. They did really well last year and that gave them exposure across the state.
Matt picked up the game of golf at the age of 10. His older brother Michael is a professional golfer and Matt started copying his and Buzz’s swings.
“He did the same thing Mike did. He got started playing in the playground at St. Joseph’s and started hitting balls over there,” Buzz said. “We would take him to the driving range so he could hit balls. He has a very fluid nice looking golf swing.”
Matt hopes to compete once again in a large national tournament.
“Matt loved the competition. Right away, Matt said I hope we play again,” Buzz said. “Hopefully we will have the privilege to do that again. Nothing is certain, the next big event is the National Special Olympics in Ames, Iowa. We hope that we get picked, but we don’t know.”
The Christensens practiced throughout the area and appreciate the Special Olympics of Itasca County. They practice every Monday at Sugarbrooke Golf Course.
“Out at Sugarbrooke, we owe them a debt of gratitude, because they gave us a free run of the practice facility,” Buzz said. “Special Olympics of Itasca’s Dave Nichols organizes all the practices for all the sports and does a heck of a job.”