FARGO — The thought just struck Fargo resident Nick Lakoduk one day last August, like the proverbial light bulb going out. How about organizing some kind of tournament in memory of his friend Russ Newman?

This could benefit youth golf one way or another. So Lakoduk got in touch with the Newman family to find that they were already organizing the Russ Newman Memorial Youth Fund. It was fate.

“We combined our forces and took off from there,” Lakoduk said.

He took off to form the Russ Newman Invitational, a 32-team two-man tournament to benefit the youth fund Friday and Saturday at Fargo Country Club. Nor is it about throwing a few dollars into a pot. The organizing committee has big ideas; the tournament has already raised enough funds to cover the June 12 Russ Newman Junior Invitational at the FCC.

This is the heart of Newman’s legacy. Children.

“I think when we were thinking about the theme, one of my brothers said he was helping kids compete,” said Kyle Newman, Russ’ son. “I remember saying, that’s it. This is the assignment.

The mission statement indeed turned out to be “Helping Kids Compete”. And there will be a lot of competition at Junior Newman. The tournament partners with the Dakota Junior Golf Association to invite the top 20 male and female class A and B golfers in North Dakota. This represents 80 of the best players in the state.

The top three finishers in the boys and girls divisions will win a ticket to Las Vegas for the World Stars of Junior Golf June 28-30. The Newman Fund will help offset some of these expenses.

“It’s amazing the tournament hasn’t even started yet and we’ve already raised enough money to sponsor kids in the next tournament,” Kyle Newman said. “We are super touched. It shows how far our dad had a reach. He had a way of connecting to people with his charisma. It’s incredible.”

The “Helping Kids Compete” theme won’t be limited to golf either. The plans call for using the funds for other causes, such as equipment, scholarships or Christmas presents.

“We like to use the term universal competition,” said Boomer Newman, Russ’ son. “Competing to be happy like a normal child. Competing for school supplies. Maybe someone would have Christmas money for the kids and couldn’t afford it. Dad did this for years .

The weekend field is no slouch, with no limitation on amateur status. Former professional golfer Andy Doeden will make a rare tournament appearance with Craig Palmer. Former pro Josh Persons teams up with veteran teaching pro John Dahl. FCC pro Dave Schultz is paired with Zach Bertschi.

Mike Podolak and Reed Olien, perhaps the most successful team in North Dakota amateur history, are back.

“We have high caliber players coming here,” Boomer Newman said. “Lots of positive handicaps, no shortage of talent, that’s for sure. The first year we try to get close friends and dad’s family, but also elite players. It wasn’t difficult at all. “

The format is unique. Friday is a best two-man base net ball. Saturday is a net total score for the two-team, which means everyone’s shot counts.

“It’s not going to be a five-year deal,” Boomer Newman said. “It’s here to stay.”