BIG SKY – Cowboy hats were seen recently on the golf course in Big Sky for the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s annual T-Bone Classic Golf Tournament.
The event helped raise awareness and funds for the Stockgrowers Foundation.
“The goal of the foundation is to support Montana Stockgrowers programs,” said Della Ehlke, a rancher from Townsend and chair of the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation. “Most of the programs are geared around education, leadership, legacy, and conservation. We are always looking for new ways to raise funds. The T-Bone Classic is one of the fundraising events where the money raised goes back into programs that are perpetuating ranching in Montana.”
Twenty-three teams of ranchers and business people from across the state attended this year’s event.
While the T-Bone Classic golf tournament is a way to raise funds for the Montana Stockgrowers Foundation, the event also serves another purpose.
It’s a way for ranchers, businesses, and supporters of the association to come together to show their appreciation for one another.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get to meet some of our supporters who help keep our education and leadership programs going,” said Justin Iverson, MSGA board member and rancher from Potomac. “It’s a great networking event for us. And, honestly, it’s a really great time.”
Businesses from across the state support the golf outing each year. One longtime sponsor of the event is Wipfli CPA’s & Consultants.
“The whole livestock industry and ranchers have been so great to our firm for over one-hundred years now,” said Curt Barnekoff, a Wipfli partner. “We give back every chance we can. Stockgrowers is certainly one of many organizations that we have committed to stand by and help take care of and do whatever we can do to support the organization and our ranchers. They feed our country, I know that’s a cliché, but, they do. To be able to come out here in the sunshine and fun to enjoy a laugh or two you can’t beat it.”
Della Ehlke understands the importance of the relationship’s ranchers have with businesses in Montana.
“In our day to day operations, it’s amazingly important to have these people apart of our family businesses. But, also as sponsors of programs that are a benefit to the association. They are critical to the future of ranching.”
The T-Bone Classic is not just in name. The event has also become famous for serving up Montana grown T-bone steaks provided by Open Prairie Natural beef.
In describing the T-Bone steak, Della Ehlke said, “It’s an amazing T-bone steak. I couldn’t give you dimensions. I know that most can’t finish it. But, I’m sure some people will finish theirs.”
“It’s a Flintstone T-bone. It’s a side of brontosaurus I’m pretty sure. It’s a nice big chunk of beef done over charcoal, absolutely perfectly,” said Justin Iverson.
“It filled me up man. It was great! Top quality. We know it comes from our state. We know who raised it and how they do it. There’s not much more that can beat that,” said Curt Barnekoff.
By pairing golf clubs and cowboy hats, the T-Bone Classic has become a way for ranchers and businesses to support the future of the livestock industry in Montana.
-Reporting by Lane Nordlund