The Rocky Mountain Open (RMO) was born in 1939. Hosted in Western Colorado, 60 amateurs and professionals came together to compete at Lincoln Park, battling it out over 54 holes in two days. With the support of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce and Chet Enstrom, one of the founders of Enstrom Candies, the Rocky Mountain Open was a success and was held again the next year, and every year since. The Rocky Mountain Open has become the longest continually running annual golf tournament west of the Mississippi, and 2020 will be the tournament's 82nd year.
Held in the beautiful landscape of Grand Junction complemented by a challenging course, it didn't take long for the RMO to start getting national attention. By the early 1940s, just a few years after the very first tournament, professional golfers from across the country, coast to coast, were meeting to test their swings at this beautifully made desert course.
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Throughout the years, golf legends have left their mark on the Rocky Mountain Open, helping to shape its legacy as a serious tournament. Mildred Zaharias, an Olympic athlete who took home two gold medals in track and field, came in third place as an amateur in 1946 and returned to play in the pro flight in 1950. U.S Open winner Orville Moody took home the title in 1975, while a local pro, Harold Sommers, made winning the RMO a family tradition, with both his sons claiming titles as well.
Today, the Rocky Mountain Open continues to be held in Grand Junction. Over 150 pros and amateurs descend on western Colorado to play at spectacular courses. The purse has grown from $500 to $70,000, while Grand Junction staple Enstrom Candies remains a proud supporter of this event.
In August 2020, golfers will tee off on Grand Junction's Tiara Rado course, set to the stunning backdrop of the Colorado National Monument where red rock canyons surround immaculate greens. The green grass, shady trees, and ponds throughout the course create a desert oasis. With views like these, it takes real talent not to be distracted by the striking surroundings.
As talent in the golf arena continually improves, 2020 promises to be one of the best years yet. While the tournament initially cost one dollar to watch in 1939, it soon became free for spectators and remains open for all to enjoy, making it a fun community event.
While the Rocky Mountain Open attracts athletes from across the country, it is all about community. Rocky Mountain Open supports the community through the athletics program at Colorado Mesa University and this year, they would also like to donate a portion of the proceeds to support the development of a First Tee Junior Program in Mesa County.
Whether you’re an avid golfer or have never teed off before, come out to Tiara Rado, August 21-23, 2020 to support a Grand Junction tradition over 80 years in the making. To learn more about this Western Colorado Classic, visit rmogolf.org.
Want to learn more about golfing in Grand Junction? Check out page 29 of the Grand Junction Visitor Guide.