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A tip of the hat to Tuffy, for 25 years

Tuffy's Classic host Kenny Nelson, left, with his cousin Chuck Anderson, Monticello, who appropriately was the winner of the closest-to-pin contest--which won him a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Anderson is one of Tuffy Nelson's nephews.1 / 2
In recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Tuffy Nelson tourney, this team of golfers found matching "uniforms" on the internet. All four are relatives of the late Tuffy Nelson: Kurt Nelson, Perham; Kyle Anderson, Monticello; Chuck Anderson, Monticello; and Kim Larson, Nisswa.2 / 2

By Louis Hoglund

Light rain in the morning and late in the day, combined with cloudy skies overhead, didn't prevent 240 golfers from strolling the greens and fairways of Lakeside Golf Club for the 25th annual Tuffy Nelson Classic.

Luck played a role in the festive, day-long event. Luckily, the rains came early in the day, and again later in the afternoon--but for a bulk of the day, golfers stayed relatively dry.

Skill, and maybe a little bit of luck, won Chuck Anderson, Monticello, a Chrysler PT Cruiser in a "closest to the pin" contest.

The contest, with its big-ticket prize guarantee, was a special feature this year as the Tuffy Nelson Classic celebrated a quarter century as a charitable golf event.

Appropriately, Anderson is one of the late Tuffy Nelson's nephews; and a cousin of Kenny Nelson, president of KLN Enterprises.

For Tom Coates, Denver, Colorado, skill--and perhaps a little luck--put his ball into the cup for a hole-in-one. The ace was shot on Oak Number 6, and is believed to be the second hole-in-one in the 25 year history of the Tuffy's tournament. Coates is an alumnus of the UND golf squad, and was a teammate of Perham's Charlie Cavanagh when they were students at Grand Forks.

Winning team for the gross score was a repeat of last year, as a team led by Dr. Cory Nyhus won again. Rounding out the team were Curt Nyhus, Tom Thompson and Craig Palmer.

Taking the net score competition were Ron Robinson, Lakeville; Brett Steinwhener and Brian Steinwhener, Hudson; and Dan Bormann, Perham.

Winning the medal as top individual golfer was Ben Feeman.

Tuffy's business

enterprises date to 1964

A brief history of Tuffy's and KLN Enterprises: In 1964, Tuffy and son Kenny started Tuffy's Pet Foods. They sold the business in 1971, but Kenny purchased the company back in 2001. Meanwhile, KLN Enterprises got Barrel O' Fun and Kenny's Candies rolling.

The Classic was founded in 1985. Credited with the creation of the Tuffy's tourney is George Thomas, a long time Little Pine Lake resident and golf fan.

"We should set up a golf tournament to honor Tuffy, with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society," said Thomas in a 1985 interview. Thomas's idea of a charitable golf event was conceived not long after Tuffy was diagnosed with cancer.

"It seems kind of funny, but we always wait until somebody is dead to honor them," continued Thomas.

Despite the exhausting chemotherapy treatments, Tuffy managed to greet golfers and socialize over the course of that first tourney 25 years ago--though he was unable to compete in the event.

Despite Tuffy's death,

tourney grew three-fold

Tuffy died before the second annual Classic was played in 1986, but the tradition has continued and, today, it is one of the best-known tournaments of its kind in the region.

The fact that there were 80-some golfers at the first event a quarter-century ago, and 240 at the anniversary tourney last weekend, is a worthy tribute to Tuffy--and a testimony to the success of the companies Tuffy and his family spawned: Tuffy's Pet Foods, Barrel O' Fun snacks and Kenny's Candies.

Perham hospital also

to benefit from Classic

A portion of the proceeds raised at the tournament will again be donated to various cancer charities and for the beautification at Lakeside. Some of the money raised this year will also go towards the new Perham hospital project.

The event is expected to raise as much as $15,000, according to Nick Anderson, manager of Lakeside and Mulligan's.

Following the golf event, the Mulligan's crew hosted the golfers for dinner, an awards presentation and a dance--featuring "The Front Fenders."

"Outside of the cloudy weather, it was a great turnout," said Anderson, noting that there were 240 golfers--56 more than golfed the tournament in 2008.