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Surfside Bar & Grill is partnering with the Mound Volunteer Fire Department Relief Association for a fundraising golf tourney Sept. 25. All proceeds from the 4-person scramble, to be held at Watertown’s Timber Creek Golf Course, will benefit the Relief Association. (Elizabeth Hustad/Laker Pioneer)

A fish fry for 3,000-plus people might not be the best public health etiquette right now, but an open-air golf tournament fits pandemic protocol to a tee.

Mound’s Surfside Bar & Grill is partnering with the Mound Volunteer Fire Department Relief Association to hold a first annual golf tournament at Watertown’s Timber Creek Golf Course Friday, Sept. 25.

“We wanted to do something fun and raise some money at the same time,” said Dan Zellmer, owner of Surfside. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Relief Association.

The coronavirus pandemic had sunk what would have been the fire department’s 69th annual Fish Fry this June—and with it, the thousands in donation money for its purchase of equipment.

Members of the Relief Association had been in contact with a number of area businesses this summer for setting up fundraising opportunities that would help make up the change lost from the canceled Fry.

Surfside’s Zellmer said that ideas had been floating for a couple of months between himself and those connected with Mound Fire as they tried to figure out what kinds of events could happen safely and with good pandemic “etiquette” while still providing some fun for those who took part.

“We try to be involved in everything we can,” said Zellmer, who counted the cancellations of both the Fish Fry and Mound’s Spirit of the Lakes festival this year as a one-two punch.

The golf tourney on the 25th will be a 4-person scramble, which Zellmer said will make it more accessible to different skill levels. A scramble allows the four team members to each take a shot at the hole, with the next starting shot taking place where the closest ball lands: just one skilled golfer can carry a team, no matter its other members’ level of play.

“We’re just going to try to keep it fun out there. It’s not a competition-type deal. It’s just to get out, have some fun,” said Zellmer.

Zellmer, who alongside fellow coordinators Jeff Flattum and MFD’s Matt Jakubik, has been ironing out the tourney details for the past two weeks, said participants can count on prizes for in-golf events like longest drive and closest to the pin. Following the tournament, all participants are invited back to Surfside Bar & Grill for a lunch and drinks on the patio, included in the registration fee of $400 per team or $100 per player.

In those two weeks of planning, Zellmer said he had secured local sponsors Minnesota Lakes Bank, State Farm and the Northwest Tonka Lions, as well as Lindstrom & Associates, which usually hosts the live burn demonstration during the fire department’s annual open house. Sponsorships were still available as of Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Registration for golfers is also still open. By press time Sept. 15, 60 golfers had signed up for the tournament. Zellmer said he has a goal of registering 120 golfers; the registration cut-off is Monday, Sept. 21. Zellmer said there isn’t a specific monetary goal for the tournament but that he does plan to make it an annual event, even if the benefiting organization changes each year.

“We’re lucky here in Mound to have a great fire department. We want to show our appreciation to those guys for volunteering their time. They put in hundreds of hours a year,” he said. “Your donation might end up buying equipment that’s helping to save your life down the road.”

One set of turnout gear can cost $2,400 for just the coat and pants, plus $240 for a helmet and $130 for boots.

Zellmer urged people to consider donating any amount even if they are unable to participate in the golf scramble and that checks made out to Mound Volunteer Fire Department Relief Association would make there way to the association. The Relief Association, along with the Mound Fire Department Auxiliary, are responsible for all fundraising efforts for the department.

To sign up for the scramble ($400 per team or $100 per player) or to become a sponsor, contact Dan Zellmer by Sept. 21 at 612-868-2095. Included in registration is a round of golf, a cart and post-tourney lunch at Surfside. Tournament is at Timber Creek Golf Course, located at 9750 County Rd. 24 in Watertown. Shotgun start is at 8 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 25.

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