Frazee residents Diane Hayes (front, left center) and Kate Mellen (front, right center) are two of the many volunteers who host a golf tournament where the funds raised go directly to veterans in the area.

By Barbie Porter


Kate Mellen and Diane Hayes are two Frazee area residents of many who help make the popular annual Veterans Invitational Golf Classic such a big draw.

The Veterans Invitational Golf Classic will celebrate its 20th year on Friday, June 25 at Forest Hills Golf and RV Resort. 

The funds form the event go to help veterans directly. While the playing card is full for teams, there is still an opportunity to bid on one of the many silent auction items that will be on display at the American Legion in Detroit Lakes.

Getting involved to 

help the greater good

Hayes, an Eagle Lake resident, has been involved in the invitational golf classic for 17 of the 20 years. She heard about it through being a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Club. 

“I support all veterans,” she said, adding her family has deep roots with those who have served, from her father to her children to her grandchildren. 

Supporting veterans is the main mission of the invitational golf classic. Hayes explained the proceeds have always gone to veterans, either through the VA in Fargo, N.D. or the veteran’s home in Fergus Falls, Minn.

All those who join the golf tournament, or bid on one of the many silent auction items, are directly helping area veterans. 

Organizer Laurette Schmidt said funds are not for brick and mortar. Instead the funds raised may go to the  Fargo VA  to assist with patient needs or to cover the cost of cable TV in a veteran’s room. Whereas the money sent to the Veteran’s home in Fergus Falls might go to personal recreational needs, to pay for a day trip, or even personal care items.

Phillip Bellefeuille, an original member of the event, recalled it all started with a friendly challenge between the members of the VFW and Legion.

“I think it was the first three years only vets were able to play,” he said, adding now all can register to join the fun.

The venue has always been the 18-hole course of Forest Hills, Bellefeuille said, it offers a superior course and a full service clubhouse with a crew that has been great to work with for 20 years and counting. Now the event has made a name for itself, it draws golfers from across the state, often filling the 36 available slots. 

“We’ve never had to cancel a tournament due to weather,” he said. “One time we had to wait for the lightning to pass, but we never have canceled.”

The success of the event likely has to do with the organizers placing volunteers where their skills are best utilized. 

Mellen, a new Frazee resident, joined the American Legion shortly after moving to town. The Army National Guard veteran is also a golfer, so the event it was a natural fit for her passions.

Her goal was to visit with businesses in the lakes area and ask for donations for the silent auction, sponsorships and so forth.

“I really enjoyed that because I got to meet a lot of people in the our communities,” she said. “Being a volunteer also allowed me to meet many new people.”

“Thinking about what veterans do for us gets me emotional,” Mellen said. “They put their lives on the line, so I appreciate the chance to give back; it hits me at the core.”

On average the tournament allows the group to donate about $15,000 to veterans. 

Anyone interested in joining the planning efforts, signing up early for the next event or donating for next year can contact Schmidt at (701) 552-2759 or email