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The 2022 Watson Challenge | at Indian Hills Country Club

For Immediate Release

Mission Hills, Kansas – The Watson Challenge, hosted by namesake Tom Watson, is set to take place Thursday, June 2 through Saturday, June 4 at Indian Hills Country Club. The Watson Challenge offers the strongest field of amateur and professional golfers in the Kansas City area.

The Watson Challenge is an annual 54-hole golf championship held “To Determine the Best Golfer in the Greater Kansas City Golf Community.” The event has a 50-golfer field, consisting of the top PGA Club Professionals from the Midwest Section PGA, and the top amateurs living in the greater Kansas City golf community.

Players competing include Tom Watson, 2019 Watson Challenge Champion, Alex Springer, Indian Hills Country Club Director of Golf, Mike Ricket, and for the first time in the Challenge’s 15-year-history, a woman will be in the field. Gianna Augustine, PGA Teaching Professional at the Overland Park Golf Division was awarded an invitation to the event.

After many years of renting the land that is currently Kansas City Country Club, the 130 acres that are now home to Indian Hills Country Club were developed by legendary golf course designer, A.W. Tillinghast. Indian Hills has previously hosted the 2001 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, the 2012 Watson Challenge, and more than 50 USGA and State Amateur qualifying events. The challenging 6554 yards, par 70 championship course will force golfers in the field to hit tee shots into narrow landing zones and compete on the course that Tillinghast called “one of the greatest opportunities I have ever had for creating a notable golf course.”

The event will raise funds for the First Tee of Kansas City. Tickets are available at the door and a $25 donation to the First Tee is suggested.

For tournament information, pairings, and players click here >>

Round 1 Pairings >>

Media Contact:
Baile Stephenson
(913) 649-5242 x4
baile@clgolf.org

Wolff & Perkins Secure First Spring Triple Threat Title

It was a beautiful day on Monday at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wichita for the Spring Triple Threat. Thank you to the staff and members for hosting and helping make the event go smoothly!

Results

Overall Gross: Abby Wolff & Hannah Perkins
Overall Net: Donna Nelson & Karen Brown

Flight 1
Low Gross:
1st: Jennifer Slayton & Madison Slayton
2nd: Denise Desilet & Patricia Sherwood
Low Net:
1st: Paula Routon & Shirley Blick
2nd: Jordan Boone & Susan Mueller

Flight 2
Low Gross:
1st: JoAnn McCormack & Teri Wray
2nd: Peggy Ricketts & Rose Schuh
Low Net:
1st: Jennifer Fry & Nancy Knopp
2nd: Deb Hager & Janet Ast

Flight 3
Low Gross:
1st: Kathy Thomas & Lora Walenz
2nd: Deb Slater & Holly Anderson
Low Net:
1st: Deb Christian & Lori Payne
2nd: Barb Fisher & Vicki Worrell

Flight 4
Low Gross:
1st: Paula Gill & Shirley West
2nd: Cindy Langlois & Rhonda Scheffler
Low Net:
1st: Jane Farmer & Marci Williams
2nd: Donna Roth Hillis & Mary Troy

Closest to the Pin
Hole 6: Missy Donaldson
Hole 9: Karen Brown
Hole 13: Julie Young
Hole 17: Deb Nittler

VanDolah Wins Kansas City Match Play Championship

VanDolah Wins Kansas City Match Play Championship – Presented by Granite Garage Floors

Zach VanDolah won the Kansas City Match Play Championship on Sunday evening.

Going into the week, VanDolah was feeling confident because he knew the golf course well. Swope Memorial Golf Course has been home to the event since its resurrection in 2013. “I was able to work on the pieces of my game that I knew I would rely on at Swope which was mainly tee shots and wedges to tight pins.” VanDolah said.

VanDolah, the 2 seed, shot 69 in Friday’s Qualifying Round, and he didn’t slow down from there. He won his first match 3&2 against Jeff Mason. In the round of 16, he defeated Park Ulrich 5&3. In the Quarterfinals, he defeated 2021 KC Match Play Champion, Doug Albers, 4&2. In the Semi-finals, he played against Max Ernst and won 4&3.

During the Final Match, he was struggling to hit greens and had to make a lot of up and downs. “I missed it right on 13, the long par 3, and had a long pitch across the green to a left pin. I hit the pitch like I wanted to, but it hit the green and was running a bit hot. It ended up hitting the pin and going in.”

VanDolah had a few more shots go his way leading to his 4&2 victory over Drew Carlson in the Final match.

When asked how he feels about this win, VanDolah says “I’m fortunate to get to compete a lot, and to finally seal the deal was huge. I feel like I have been knocking at the door for a while and have lost some heartbreakers throughout my life. It’s a good feeling to get the win, especially against the competition I faced. All my matches were against great players. All of whom could have won this thing.”

Full results >>

Tournament history >>

Saturday Update:

Final Four at the Kansas City Match Play

Four golfers will continue to the Semi-final matches on Sunday Morning at the Kansas City Match Play Championship.

Drew Carlson vs. Andrew Campbell
Zach VanDolah vs. Max Ernst

Carlson won both of his matches 4&3, the first against Liam Coughlin and his Quarterfinal match against Ben Pearson.

Campbell won his first match of the day against Jeff Spradlin 2 up and his Quarterfinal match against Nathan Hughes 4&3.

Carlson, the 25 seed, will play Campbell, the 29 seed, in the Semi-finals Sunday Morning at 7:30 am.

VanDolah will look to earn his KC Match Play crown on Sunday, after finishing Runner Up in the 2021 Championship. He defeated Park Ulrich 5&3 and the 2021 KC Match Play defending Champion, Doug Albers, 4&2 during the Quarterfinals.

Ernst defeated Conrad Roberts 2 up in his first match and defeated Will Harding 4&3 during the Quarterfinals.

VanDolah, the 2 seed, and Ernst, the 22 seed, will play in the Semi-finals Sunday Morning at 7:38 am.

Live scoring and tournament updates can be found here >>

Friday Update:

Baldwin Earns Medalist in Qualifying Round

In perfect Kansas City Match Play style, there was a weather delay to begin the Championship Friday morning at Swope Memorial Golf Course. One hundred men teed it up in the stroke-play qualifying round in hopes of making it into the Match Play Bracket, which was determined by the best 32 scores.

Leading the field was Brooks Baldwin of Warrensburg, shooting five-under-par. Baldwin started his round with an eagle on the par 5, 12th hole. He made another birdie on hole 15 before making the turn at three-under-par. On the front nine (his back nine) he birdied holes 1, 2, 3, 7, and 9…a total of six birdies appeared on his card for the day.

2021 KC Match Play Runner Up, Zach VanDolah fired an impressive round of 69 to secure his spot in the Match Play bracket safely.

The cut line into match play was four-over-par. Kit Grove won the 6 for 1 playoff, earning him the 32nd seed.

16 Will Continue Playing In Saturday’s Championship

With the weather cleared, the 32 qualifiers began their matches around 3:00 PM Friday, beginning an upset-filled afternoon.

Notable Matches Include:

  • 2021 KC Match Play Champion, Doug Albers, defeated Ryan Thompson 3&2
  • #32 seed, Kit Grove, defeated #1 seed, Brooks Baldwin, 1up
  • #30 seed, Jon Platz, defeated #3 seed, Andrew Hatten, 4&3
  • #29 seed, Andrew Campbell, defeated #4 seed, Jay Gregory, 5&4
  • #28 seed, Nathan Hughes, defeated #5 seed, Brian Fehr, 2&1
  • The Match against Caleb Carter & Max Ernst went into extra holes, with Ernst winning on the 21st hole of the match

16 golfers will tee off Saturday morning beginning at 8:00 AM.

Pairings, live scoring, and results can be found here >>

Four Indian Hills caddies awarded Evans Scholarships

In our Centennial Year, four Indian Hills caddies have been awarded four-year, full tuition and housing college scholarships by the Western Golf Association.  The new Evans Scholars include Paige Bruce (Lee’s Summit North HS), Savannah Gentry (St. Teresa’s Academy), Cooper Goss (Rockhurst HS), and Jaisen Guier (St. Michael the Archangel HS).

All the new Evans Scholars will be attending the University of Kansas, as Freshmen in September 2022, where they will be living with 35 other scholars in the KU Evans Scholar Chapter House on campus.  Indian Hills caddie and graduating KU Evans Scholar,  AnhDao Do, will serve as next year’s Graduate Resident Advisor at the KU Chapter House.

To be awarded an Evans Scholarship a caddie candidate must be recommended by their Club Pro, have caddied for at least two years, have achieved high academic standing, evidence family financial need, and demonstrate exemplar character.  All of our new Indian Hills Evans Scholars met these high standards and greatly impressed the WGA Interview Committee in their early February interviews. The four-year scholarship has a value of $120,000.

The Evans Scholarship Foundation, sponsored by the Western Golf Association, will have 1200 students on scholarship in 2022, at 20 universities throughout the nation.  The Program is funded from proceeds of the BMW Championship and by club members, golfers, and Evans Scholar Alumni, who make annual contributions to the WGA Par Club.  Three Indian Hills members serve as Directors of the WGA:  Bob Hartnett, Dan Scherman, and Jack Holland.

As a result of the decades-long support of Mike Ricket and his staff, Indian Hills has the strongest and oldest caddie program in the region, and over 60 Indian Hills caddies have been awarded Evans Scholarships, including four in our Centennial Year!

Meet the Central Links Golf Board of Directors

April 17-23 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Central Links Golf has hundreds of volunteers who help officiate golf tournaments, conduct course ratings, oversee junior golf programming, and more. We are grateful for every single person who helps make our association what it is today.

In honor of this special week, we wanted to introduce you to the 32 members of our Board of Directors who represent golf clubs and communities across Kansas City and Kansas. Take a few minutes to get to know each of their stories below.

The Executive Committee

Jayne Clarke, President

A member of Smoky Hill Country Club in Hays, Jayne Clarke is a long-time member of Central Links Golf. Almost 20 years ago she answered a volunteer request for a Handicap Director position with the Kansas Women’s Golf Association, then served in several roles at the KWGA before assisting with the KWGA/KGA merger and the most recent KGA/KCGA merger that created Central Links Golf. Jayne has a passion for the game of golf which is evident to all; she plays in nearly every CLG women’s event each year, is a member of the Fore State Team, and is well respected in the women’s golf community.

What is one thing you wish people knew about CLG?
I wish more women realized that you don’t need to have a single-digit handicap to play in a Central Links Golf Event. There are events for every type of female golfer. The women’s events are a terrific way to socialize with ladies from across the region.

John Alefs, Vice President

John is a member of Wichita Country Club. He was introduced to the game of golf through his wife, he says “I played football and was a pole vaulter. When I started dating the girl who is now my wife, I found out everyone in her family played golf and most of them were pretty good.  I figured if I was to have any chance at all I would have to take up the game.

Why do you enjoy serving on the Board of Directors?
Having watched so many volunteers of the association while playing it gives me pleasure to be able to emulate their work and give back to the game.

Katy Winters, Secretary

Katy is a member of Crestview Country Club in Wichita. She has been an avid golfer in the state of Kansas most of her life after her parents introduced her to the game at six years old. She most recently placed third at the Prairie Invitational, breaking a course record at Hallbrook Country Club after shooting 67 in the second round.

What is your most memorable round of golf?
2005 KSHAA 4-1A State Championship – I made a 10 on #1 (now #10) at Terradyne to start the round and was even over the last 17 holes to get in a playoff. I made birdie on #1 in the playoff to win.

Doug Albers, Treasurer

Doug belongs to Mission Hills Country Club, although he grew up down the street from the Country Club of Leawood. Doug most recently won the Kansas City Match Play in 2021 and enjoys serving on the CLG Board because it allows him to give back to the organization that provided so many opportunities to him as a player over the years.

How were you introduced to the game?
My dad initially introduced me to the game, but the credit really belongs to the 20 or so kids on my street that played junior golf. I was really lucky to grow up where I did. We lived on the 11th hole at Leawood South Country Club and the driving range was a 3-minute walk from my house, so I spent almost every day in the summer hitting balls, having putting contests, and playing with the neighborhood kids. In the evenings, after dinner, we would either chip and putt on #11 green or play a loop from #11 to #17 that basically wrapped around our neighborhood. I’m sure the superintendent wouldn’t have been happy with us but we always fixed our ball marks and raked the bunkers to cover our tracks! I don’t think any club in town today would let junior golfers have the access we did back then. It paid off…5 of the kids from our street went on to play Division I College Golf!

Greg Dunn, Past President

When not serving as a Rules Official at a Central Links Golf event, you can find Greg playing at Milburn Country Club. He was the President of Central Links Golf in its first two years post-merger and serves as a knowledgeable Rules Official.

Why do you enjoy volunteering with CLG?
I enjoy working with the staff, volunteers, and players of CLG and wish more people know how much the association supports and benefits clubs, courses, and players.

Bob Bezek, Competitions Chair

Bob is a member of Prairie Highlands Golf Course in Olathe.

What do you enjoy about serving as the Competitions Chair?
I love golf and I love helping our staff and volunteers run high-quality golf tournaments. I wish more people knew how much thought and work it takes for CLG to make it all happen.

Dick Stuntz, Club Services Chair

Dick is a member of The Jayhawk Club but was introduced to the game of golf in Northern Iowa. His community had a 9-hole golf course and his entire family played golf. He mentions that “my mother was the club champion in five different decades!”

How did you get involved with CLG?
I was involved as a Board Member for the KGA and now CLG. I enjoy being associated with such a golf-knowledgable group of people and learning from them.

Brianna Portmann, Player Development Chair

Brianna was first involved with the association when it was the KCGA and she was competing on the Junior Tour. She went on to become a highly-skilled player in her youth and into college where she played at the University of Michigan.

What is your most memorable round of golf?
Competing against Morgan Pressel during the USGA Women’s Amateur Championship in 2004.

Pete Krsnich, Budget Chair

Pete is a member of Wichita Country Club and was originally introduced to CLG as a junior golfer by Scott and Vicki Brooks who ran the South Central Section of the Kansas Junior Golf Association.

What is your most memorable round of golf?
The semi-final match of the 2004 Kansas Amateur at Shadow Glen. I chipped in three holes in a row; I won a hole, halved a hole, and lost a hole. Yes, I chipped in and still lost the hole.

One thing he wishes more people knew about CLG is that “We are extremely grateful to our host clubs and courses. It takes a group effort to build a schedule with great venues including staff, board members, and players at host clubs and courses.”

The Board of Directors

Lyndi Cox, Topeka Country Club

How did you get started playing golf?
My dad is the one who got me started in golf at the age of 12. He “made” me participate in Junior Golf in the Summer and I begged him not to make me go. He strongly encouraged me to stick with it. I am so grateful for him spending countless hours and money on lessons to help me become a better golfer, as that allowed me to play College Golf. 

How were you introduced to CLG?
Karen Exon introduced me to CLG. I have known her since I was a Junior Golfer and now we actually play at the same course. Anyone who has met Karen knows her passion for the game and I was honored she asked me to take over her position. 

Ryne Fisher, Blue Hills Country Club

What was your most memorable round of golf?
My first round with Tom Watson at the Watson Challenge.

Why do you enjoy serving on the CLG Board of Directors?
Working in the golf industry for Bushnell Golf, growing the game is important to my everyday life. Seeing what CLG does to introduce new people to the game while also providing competition for the more experienced golfers is extremely encouraging.

Dan Froelich, Ironhorse Golf Course

How were you introduced to the game?
I was in my mid 30’s and my boss highly recommended I give up tennis and start playing golf. He said that golf was much better from a client relationship standpoint than tennis. What he told me is that with tennis you are trying to beat your opponent whereas with golf you are playing against a common opponent, the golf course. Lastly, my boss said that the time spent on the golf course with the client was priceless.

How did you get started with CLG?
Prior to retiring, my best friend said I should become a Rules Official and Course Rater which sounded like a great idea. After several years of volunteering, I was asked to serve on the Executive Committee of what was then the KCGA.

Chad Fuqua, Hesston Golf Course & Prairie Dunes Country Club

How were you introduced to the game?
Golf Pro Dean Adkisson, from Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club, made a career decision that changed my life. Dean and his wife decided to resign as Head pro of Southern Hills CC in 1975 to take a job at a “far more prestigious” municipal golf course in Hesston, KS – Hesston Golf Course. Which opened in 1976. I was four years old. In the same year, 1976, my father decided to enroll me in the newly founded junior golf program in Hesston. Junior Golf was a lifelong passion for Dean Adkisson, as the only way to grow the game was to introduce it to people at a young age. By the time I was 8 years old, I spent more summertime at the golf course than I did at my home. Dean became one of the most notable mentors in golf and life, as he helped me develop a passion for the game throughout my formative years. He retired from the head pro position the fall after I graduated from High School in 1990. I was his last student of the game. During his tenure as Pro at Hesston, Hesston High School was the most dominant 3A/4A high school golf team in KSHSAA. As he impacted several young people’s love for the game and competition and developed many fine young golfers (both boys and girls)

Why do you enjoy volunteering as the Junior Golf Chair for the South Central Section?
I can say that Golf was a very important part of my life. I look back at one of my mentors, Dean Adkisson, and he gave so much to young people in golf; I believe that giving back to the game’s youngest players is the best way I can honor the game that has had such an impact on my life.

Jack Garvin, Fred Arbanas Golf Course

Jack is one of our association’s historians. He does an excellent job keeping records of every major event we run and helped tremendously with the compilation of historical documents when KCGA and KGA merged into CLG.

What do you love most about being involved with CLG?
It feels good to work with others and give back to the game.

Lance Ihrig, Sugar Hills Golf Club

How did you first get involved with CLG?
Our club used the Handicap System through the KGA for many years. My boys played in tournaments and I got to meet quite a few members doing that.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about CLG?
People don’t realize how much work goes into running a golf tournament.

Dave Jackson, Milburn Country Club

How did you get started playing golf?
My father left a set of old Lynx irons, and some friends convinced me to give them a try at a couple of local muni courses (Minor Park & Staton Meadows). 

Why do you enjoy serving on our Board of Directors?
It’s been a rewarding way of giving something back to the game and community of golf with a terrific group of people sharing a common focus. 

Don Kuehn, Paradise Pointe

If you are familiar with golf in Kansas City, you’ve probably heard Don’s name a few times. Don is not only a great player and competitor but also serves as the Chair of the Kansas City Golf Hall of Fame Committee.

Do you prefer to ride or walk when you play?
I’m a former caddie and a dedicated walker!

Range or putting practice?
I spend a lot of time on the range.

Ryder Cup or The Masters?
Put me down for the Ryder Cup.

Mark Lavin, Milburn Country Club

If you have ever been to a Rules of Golf class, you will know how much Mark loves to talk about the Rules!

How did you get involved with CLG and what is your favorite part about volunteering?
The late Michael Bombeck suggested I might enjoy doing Rules. It is my way of giving back to the community for all the benefits I have gotten from golf and from living in Kansas City.

What is your most memorable round of golf?
When I shot 68 at Prairie Highlands.

Martha Linscott, Indian Hills Country Club

Martha is a notable player in our association. She won the Senior Amateur in 2020, going on to compete in the US Senior Amateur. She has also been low-senior at the Prairie Invitational.

Why do you enjoy serving on the Board of Directors?
Because I get to meet fellow golfers from around the state who are striving to make tournament golf a positive experience for golfers of all levels. It’s important to have standards and expectations for competitive golf and hold each other accountable so it can be a great experience for all.

Taylor McCann, Ironhorse Golf Course

What was your most memorable round of golf?
When I shot below my age at Ironhorse, I shot 71 at age 76.

What is one thing about CLG you wish more people knew?
More about the extent of activity the association does in the community – managing and officiating golf for all amateur and professional golf in our region – (juniors, handicaps, scratch, collegiate, Watson Challenge, and Korn Ferry qualification). GHIN handicap through staff, volunteer, and course rating – etc, etc, etc!

Judy Morris, Derby Golf & Country Club

Judy was heavily involved in the KWGA, serving as a Past President and Junior Golf Administrator. She was on the Board of Directors during the merger that created Central Links Golf.

What is your most memorable round of golf?
My most memorable round was my winning round at the 2018 Kansas Women’s Super-Senior Championship at Wichita CC. It was the first State Championship I had won all by myself. Before that, I had “watched” my daughters (Kathy & Jaci) win multiple State Championships; “partnered” to win one; and “coached” our winning KWGA Fore State Team. The Senior Super-Senior Championship Tournament is an event I always look forward to – it has a great history and is always a wonderful opportunity to connect with golfing friends, and it was truly an honor to earn the title of Champion.

Conrad Roberts

How did you get started playing golf?
At the age of 11, my dad joined Cradoc Golf Club which was my local course in Wales. I basically wanted to do whatever my dad did, so he took me with him to the course and I just started hitting balls. However, it wasn’t until I was 13 before I started getting good enough to play competitively, so that’s when I truly caught the golf bug!

Why do you enjoy serving on our Board of Directors?
Coming from Wales, golf opened up so many opportunities for me. It not only paid for my college education, but the game has taken me around the world. Golf also introduced me to so many wonderful people, so I want to be able to give back to the game that has been so good to me. Serving on the board is one way I can do that.

Chris Robinson, Mariah Hills Golf Course

Chris is the Head Golf Professional at Mariah Hills Golf Course in Dodge City.

What is your most memorable round of golf?
When I played with my son and he broke 80 for the first time.

Why do you enjoy serving on our Board of Directors?
I like being able to grow the game of golf while giving input for the needs of Southwest Kansas.

Patricia Sherwood, Flint Hills National Golf Club

How did you get started playing golf?
It was with the flip of a coin, “golf” or “interior design” classes. I signed up for a non-credit PE class at WSU and lo and behold Natasha Fife was teaching it. I didn’t know who she was, but she had a big following. I loved the class and signed up again in the spring semester. She’s still my mentor and friend.

What do you wish more people knew about CLG?
I wish people knew more about our resources other than just putting on tournaments and handling our handicap. There is a big education component and so many ways to get involved and volunteer. 

If you had to choose between watching The Ryder Cup or The Masters, which would you choose?
Definitely the Masters. My favorite tournament of the year. I got to go once when Tiger was playing as an amateur…No crowds with him back then!

Alane Studley, St. Joseph Country Club

Our dear friend and Board Member Alane passed away in April. Alane was a valued member of the Board of Directors, a fierce competitor, and a friend to all she played with. In 2020, she won both the Tee Fore Two and Fall Triple Threat. Her contributions to the game will be deeply missed.

Sean Thayer, Buffalo Dunes Golf Course & The Golf Club at Southwind

Sean was involved with the KGA Board of Directors for many years and won the 1999 Kansas Amateur at Milburn Country Club.

How were you introduced to the game?
I was four years old and had three older brothers in junior golf at Liberal Country Club.

What is one thing you wished more people knew about CLG?
That Doug (CLG Executive Director) is a physicist.

Ryder Cup or The Masters?
Ryder Cup by a lot.

Chris Tuohey, Sand Creek Station Golf Course

He is the Director of Golf at Sand Creek Station Golf Course and is a big supporter of CLG events, especially women’s golf in our state. CLG is grateful that Sand Creek hosts multiple events each year.

How were you introduced to the game?
First, by my dad. He was an avid golfer, and the limited time I spent with him was on the golf course. I didn’t have much interest in the game until the age of 13. A good friend of mine in school, David White asked if I wanted to join the golf team. The rest was history. I became an avid player and competed in high school and junior tournaments during the summer. I never became a great player, but it kept me engaged in healthy elements. David was an incredible player in High School and College and a great role model. I didn’t have much direction in my life in school, but golf and David did their best to keep me on the right path. Amazing the impact people can make on your life. To this day, I still remember the day I accepted Jesus. David made this happen and I’m forever grateful. Helped me become the man I am today.

How did you get started with CLG?
I would say it started with Kim Richey, Rusty Hilst, and Casey Old. I had just started managing Sand Creek Station in 2006 when I reached out to what was then the Kansas Golf Association. I had a great conversation with Kim. I expressed my desire to host numerous KGA events at Sand Creek, even the Amateur Match Play. I just remember Kim chuckled and said “slow down kid, we’ll get there in time.” That’s when the Railer was born. Kim, Casey, Rusty, and I put our heads together and came up with what I think is a fantastic championship for Kansas Golf. I’ve made so many good friends over the years with the CLG team and all the great players.  

Tim Tyner, Council Grove Country Club

What was your most memorable round of golf?
Two rounds in one day actually. It was a 36-hole qualifier for the US Amateur in 2001 at Shadow Glen it was 95 degrees and we had to walk. 135 players teed off and 87 posted a score. 77-74. I was an old 42 at the time…

Why do you like serving on the Board of Directors?
I like helping to keep amateur golf alive in Kansas. It has been a big part of our family’s life.

Kurt Vollersten, The Golf Club of Southwind

Why do you like serving on the Board of Directors?
I like keeping Southwest Kansas visible and involved in Kansas golf.

What is something more people should notice about CLG?
Our efforts to recruit and involve our youth in the game of golf.

Gary Hruby, Shadow Glen Golf Club

Ted McDonald, Indian Hills Country Club

Benn Sledge

The Advisory Board

Steve Randall, The Jayhawk Club

What is your most memorable round of golf?
Difficult to answer with just one, so I’ll name two.  The 65 (-6) round I shot in Minnesota at the Detroit Lakes Country Club is up there, however playing my practice round at last year’s state amateur with my 14-year-old son will hold lasting memories.  It was great we both qualified for the state am, which is an exceptional event and experience.

How were you introduced to CLG?
I’ve been blessed to work in the golf industry since the mid-1990s, as a coach, then working for the Minnesota Golf Association, then being Executive Director of the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association (New Mexico/West Texas) before moving to Lawrence and working with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America which his based here.  When moving to Lawrence I reached out to the Kansas Golf Association staff and wanted to be involved.  The KGA has positively evolved into the Central Links Golf Association.  I’m honored to be part of a great group.

Brian Burris, Flint Hills National Golf Club

How did you get started golfing?
My father was career military. During my 4th grade year, he was transferred to California. We moved to a house in the countryside. There was not a lot to do out there – no kids to play with. My father cut off 3 old golf clubs to fit me (some Walter Hagen blades with metal shafts that were colored like bamboo — 5, 7, and 9 irons). He taught me how to swing. Almost every day I would hit balls into the open field next to our house, pick them up, and hit them again  . . . and again. I probably hit 6,000 balls into that field before I ever got onto a golf course. When my father was transferred to Ft. Riley, KS before my 7th-grade year, I had access to the Officer’s Club Golf Course and Custer Hill Golf Course.  I played every day during the summer and joined the junior high golf team. I’ve kind of been hooked ever since.

How were you introduced to CLG?
In the 1990s, I represented some member clubs of the Kansas Golf Association in tax relief litigation. The case went all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court. I got to know Kim Richey during this time. Jack Simpson and Kim Richey asked me to be General Counsel for the Kansas Golf Association in 2014. That was two mergers ago. I was asked to continue as General Counsel for CLG, which I gladly accepted.

Brett Plymell, Oakwood Country Club

A Trip Worth Taking

Smoky Hill Country Club

Course Location: Hays, Kansas
Travel Time >> Kansas City: 4 hours, Wichita: 2 hours, 40 minutes, Garden City: 2 hours, 20 minutes

  • Course Rating: Men: Black 70.6/126 | Women: Gold 70.3/129
  • Par: Men: 71 | Women: 72
  • General Manager: Kirby Garrison
  • Golf Professional: Weston Coss
  • Superintendent: Justin Vanek
  • Course Website: https://www.smokyhillcc.com/

Some of the best golf in Kansas can be played on your way through the state. Many golfers traveling west will take Interstate 70 to get there, but what they might not realize is that there are many golf courses worth playing off the highway. Golfers can break up their trip with a stop at Smoky Hill Country Club in Hays.

About the Course

Smoky Hill Country Club presents an 18-hole golf course with over 370 active golfing and social members. Smoky Hill offers a very challenging tree-lined course with several bodies of water that golfers need to negotiate their shots over.

Hole 13 is arguably the most challenging par 5 in the western half of the state; the distance totals 531 yards. Golfers will need to hit a nice tee shot in order to have a good look at carrying the water for their next shot. With an elevated green this hole is very tough to make a birdie.

With the progressive thinking members who belong to the club, Smoky Hill is constantly looking for ways to improve their experience from the dining room, swimming pool amenities, and golf course improvements.

Along with their active membership, Smoky Hill has recently hosted the 2021 Kansas Junior Amateur and the 2020 Tee Fore Two Championship. CLG enjoys hosting events at Smoky Hill because of the high-quality venue and vibrant community.

“The Junior Amateur at Smoky Hill Country Club was a great experience for players, parents, and staff. Kirby and his team went above and beyond to provide a prestigious atmosphere and top notch golf course for our biggest junior championship of the year.”

– Taylor Albritton, CLG Director of Junior Golf

Plan your visit

Golfers not only have the Country Club to enjoy while they are in town but there are also many shops and restaurants in the historic district of downtown Hays. Favorite restaurants include Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co. and Breathe Coffeehouse. Other notable activities include a visit to Fort Hays State Historic Site and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.

Do you have questions or need more information? Visit: https://www.visithays.com/

Course Spotlight: Hesston Golf Course

  • Course Location: Hesston, Kansas
    • Travel Time >> Kansas City: 3 hours, Wichita: 40 minutes, Garden City: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Head Golf Professional: Zach Frey
  • Course Rating: Men: Black 73.2/131 | Women: Red 68.3/116
  • Course Website: https://www.hesstongolf.com/

About the Golf Course

Located in Hesston, Kansas, Hesston Golf Course provides wide and lush zoysia fairways and greens that are firm and fast. With five sets of tee markers, this golf course provides a fair challenge for all playing abilities. Kansas’ topographical layout doesn’t provide for many elevation changes, so the designers of Hesston Golf Course elevated every green on the course. This provides a chance for an interesting lob or flop shot if you miss the green, challenging your short game imagination. Bring your pushcart or carry your clubs, Hesston Golf Course is a walking-friendly course!

The Best Parts of the Course 

One of the signature holes is the par-four 5th. This dogleg left has a dramatic elevation change to the putting surface. Golfers who cut off too much of the dogleg could end up in the pond or out of bounds. Traditional players get the benefit of added length from the tee and are left with a long approach to a very elevated and small green. Par is a fantastic score from here.

The real signature at Hesston Golf Course is actually the group of par threes. Depending on the wind, driver off the tee isn’t unheard of. There are long-time players at the course who say that they’ve hit everything from an 8-iron to a driver on the par threes.

Membership Information

  • Full access to our beautiful 18 hole facility
  • Access to our newly renovated driving range
  • Discounted Tournament Entry Fees
  • Payment plans that help fit a membership into your budget! 

More information about Membership to Hesston GC can be found here: https://www.hesstongolf.com/membership

Planning Your Trip

Interested in visiting Hesston for a day trip or part of a golf weekend away from home? Be sure to visit one of their most popular restaurants while you are in town! Must-visit restaurants include Hesston Bakery, El Cerrito Mexican, Burger Garage, Water’s Edge.
Questions or need more information?
Contact the Hesston Chamber of Commerce and Convention/Visitors Bureau
620.327.4102 or chamber@hesstonks.org 

New Sponsor For Kansas City Championships

Granite Garage Floors to Sponsor Kansas City Championships

Our Kansas City Championships will have a new face this year, Granite Garage Floors, a Prairie Village-based company will sponsor the six Kansas City-based events: KC Match Play, KC Women’s Match Play, KC Junior Match Play, KC Amateur, KC Junior, and KC Four-Ball.

Owner of Granite Garage Floors, Greg Slicker, has been a long-time supporter of Central Links Golf and formerly the Kansas City Golf Association. His kids have played in many junior golf tournaments, and he is a member of Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, Kansas.

We are very excited for this new partnership with Granite Garage Floors and Greg Slicker. Both Greg’s enthusiasm for amateur golf and Granite Garage Floors’ commitment to quality work are things we value greatly in partner companies. We’re looking forward to a great relationship.

Doug Habel, Executive Director of Central Links Golf

Get to Know Greg Slicker

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in Nebraska and my Dad introduced me to golf at a young age.  I played golf throughout high school and was fortunate to play golf in college (West Texas State & Nebraska) as well.  We were members at Meadowbrook CC for years until it closed and a few years ago, we joined Indian Hills CC

Why did you want to partner with CLG?

CLG is a great local organization that supports our community and aligns well with our company’s values and goals.  CLG has provided a ton of opportunities for both of our kids (Ben-17, Ella-14) during the past 10-12 years, and being able to support CLG via our GGF sponsorship is a WIN for both our family and our small business.

What is Granite Garage Floors?

Granite Garage Floors is an industrial epoxy and polymer floor coatings business.  We specialize primarily in coating & restoring residential garage floors, but also coat concrete in residential basements and commercial environments as well.  We started our business in 2008 in KC and now have 17 locations nationwide.  We pride ourselves on being a locally-owned, Prairie Village-based business that prides itself on integrity, impeccable customer service, and installing a quality product that is an exceptional value for KC homeowners.

What is it like running a small business?

Golf and running a small business are similar in that they are both extremely difficult, lonely at times, and come with a lot of ups & downs.  However-the process of learning to overcome the challenges of both to see the fruits of your labors is extremely satisfying and not comparable to many other things in life. 

What are your top golf experiences?

My personal experiences in golf have been wonderful – still can’t explain how in awe I was the first time I walked onto Augusta to see a Masters practice round in the late 90’s or the pure feeling of playing a great course like Bandon Dunes.  However most of the top golf experiences my wife, Erin, and I have had have been with our kids.  Being a part of helping them learn the game, caddying for them, seeing them compete at a high level, and now having them both beat me like a drum has been so fulfilling.

Slicker Family at USKIDS Worlds in 2019

Granite Garage Floors is extremely grateful to be a part of the CLG team and honored to partner with our local KC-metro golf community in the coming year!

Greg Slicker, Owner of Granite Garage Floors

You can learn more about Granite Garage Floors here >>
Follow Granite Garage floors on Instagram here >>

View Tournament Schedules:
Men’s Championships >>
Women’s Championships >>
Junior Championships >>

Learn more about CLG sponsor opportunities here >>

The Steepest Hill in Local Golf

[Ed. note: In 2014 the Kansas City Golf Hall of fame inducted four Black golfers who integrated the previously segregated links at Swope Park. The following remarks were delivered by Hall of fame Committee member, Don Kuehn]

A few years ago, while I was doing research for a series of articles for the centennial of the Kansas City Golf Association (which became known as “Jimmy, the caddie”), I came across an article that haunted me for several months. 

In July 2005, on the eve of the USGA’s Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Swope Memorial Golf Course, J. Brady McCollough wrote a story for the Kansas City Star that I just couldn’t shake.

Had McCollough not explored his topic with the depth he did back then and interviewed the people he did (many of whom have since died), a chapter of our history, and an important piece of civil rights history in Kansas City may have been lost forever.

I’ll mention McCollough again a bit later, but, now, I want to tell you a story. I call it “The Steepest hill in local golf.”  Today we think of this tale as unbelievable; troubling in so many ways. But, in the 1940s and ’50s, it was the way it was.

From the time golf came to Kansas City in about 1894, until early 1950 there were fifty-five golf courses opened in the area (this is according to my friend, “Jimmy, the Caddie”). Nineteen of these were supposedly “open to the public.”

There was a movement around the country back then, to build municipal and public golf courses as a way to “democratize” the game, allowing poor and middle-class people an opportunity to enjoy the values of health, recreation, and camaraderie that we associate with playing golf… that is, so long as you were white.

But these same values were largely denied to men and women of color.

On an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon in March of 1950 that began to change. That was the day four very brave and very dedicated black men showed up at the pro shop counter at Swope #1 and demanded the right to play the course they had been barred from since it opened.

Golf had been played somewhere in Swope Park since the first free links opened near the front gate in 1906. James Dalgleish designed the original public course in the park in 1911. And, of course, we know that A. W. Tillinghast crafted what we now call Swope Memorial in 1934.

In all that time, no black man or woman had ever played on these so-called “public” golf courses. With one exception: because of a lawsuit brought against the city, the Central States Golf Association did, indeed, hold a tournament at #1 in 1948. The Central States was a “tour” of amateur and professional minority golfers who played throughout the Midwest on whatever courses they could find. But that aside…

There was that other course that African-Americans were “allowed” to play.  It was the hardscrabble, unkempt nine-holes down the hill. Folks called it Swope #2.

In order to fully understand how deep the roots of the game had grown,  I have to tell you that black golfers had been playing the game in Kansas City since the early 1920s.

Here’s the “back-story” as they say:

In 1879 a freed slave by the name of Junius Groves (photo) walked from Kentucky to Kansas City.  When he got here he had virtually no money, but he found work as a sharecropper, eventually, he did save some money, bought a little land, and started growing potatoes.

By the early 1900s, he was so successful he became known as “The Potato King of the World”.  He was so good at what he did, a small town grew up around his operation between Edwardsville and Bonner Springs. It was called Groves Center.

So, I guess you’re asking yourself: “Don, what do potatoes have to do with golf?”

Well, I’ll tell you. Groves built a small golf course on some of his property just for the use of his black employees. I doubt there was any other exclusively-black golf course anywhere else in the country at the time… that is, not on purpose, anyway.

So, from the dirt and dust of the potato farm, came a group of players who eventually morphed into the Heart of America Golf Club. The HOA became THE organization for minority golfers in this area.

In 1938, they sued the city and its Parks Board for the right of its members to play on the course that they were, in fact, paying for through their taxes.

Times were changing.

A few years later the US entered World War II. Thousands of black men enlisted in the armed services.  Thousands of black women worked in war industries. 

In 1948 President Harry Truman issued Executive Order #9981  which abolished racial discrimination in the armed forces. Although effectuating the president’s order would take years, it proved to be the first bullet fired at “Jim Crow” in the military.

So, veterans came home and tried to rebuild their lives. But on the streets of Kansas City, like the rest of the country, it wasn’t so easy.

Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey had broken the color barrier in the major leagues; Dr. Martin Luther King’s first application of non-violence was still years away; Brown v. Board of Education was not on the radar yet; Ms. Rosa Parks wouldn’t take her stand on the Montgomery bus for another five years. But golf was becoming one of the first battlegrounds in the fight for civil rights.

African-Americans fought for freedom in Europe and Asia but found little of it when they came home. The right to vote, to have access to good schools, to eat in restaurants, and to shop in stores of their choosing were denied them.

In golf, Swope #1 was like a virtual country club for middle-class whites. The A.W. Tillinghast design was about as closed to the non-white public as Kansas City Country Club or Milburn were.

Black golfers had access to the nine holes at Swope #2, but… only on Mondays and Tuesdays! 

Well, on March 24, 1950, the President of the HoAGC, Mr. George Johnson – who started playing on that potato farm back in the ’20s – and three of his buddies: 

Leroy Doty

Mr. Reuben Benton, a newspaperman who later became co-owner of The Call newspaper;

Mr. Sylvester “Pat” Johnson; and Mr. Leroy Doty (left) — who were also part of the Heart of America Golf Club — climbed the steepest hill in local golf: they drove up to Swope #1 and forced the issue. 

According to that article written by J. Brady McCollough for the Kansas City Star (July 17, 2005)[1]:

“They drove that winding road up the hill, walked into the clubhouse, and laid their greens fees on the counter. The man behind the counter looked up, astonished. They knew what he would say.

‘You can’t play here, but you can play at course #2.’

He expected them to walk away and get back into their cars like the black men who preceded them. But not on this day. Not with the seeds of change that had been planted across the country.

The Call reported the conversation that ensued something like this: (I suspect the vernacular of the times was “sanitized” prior to publication):

Now, boys, you know you can’t play here; you’re colored fellows.

    Who said we can’t?

They said it downtown.

    Who said it, and why?

Can’t say who said it, but they said it, and that’s all I know.

    Well, if you can’t say who said we can’t play, and if you don’t know why, then        we’ll just go ahead and play and let them tell us.

They went to the first tee and hit their drives under the glare of the superintendent. Beaten, he walked back to the clubhouse. 

Meanwhile, anticipating the sounds of sirens and police that never came, the four men enjoyed what would be the first of many rounds on the hallowed grounds of Swope #1.

But the white men who frequented the course weren’t about to give up their turf that easily.  Incidents of broken windows and slashed tires were numerous. Some would show up in groups of five and roll dice to see who would stay behind for the first nine holes, then the high score of the other four would stand guard while the others played the back.

Others would meet at a shopping area near 47th street and take a taxi to the course.

Eventually, the city stopped maintaining the Tillinghast course as fewer and fewer white players showed up.  The period of decline lasted almost 25 years. Not until Mr. Ollie Gates (an old friend of Reuben Benton’s) and head of the Parks Board, pushed for the city to back the renovation of Swope to its pre-1950s splendor did it become everybody’s golf course again.

Fifty-five years later, in 2005, the USGA conducted the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Swope Memorial (as it is now known). Players from all over the globe competed.

Just as the Foursome might have imagined… the doors of the course were open to all.

They called themselves “The Foursome”. And they beat Jim Crow 1-up in a classic battle that went on for years.

For their courage to defy the “Jim Crow” conventions of the times; for the example, they set for the generations who followed them to the well-maintained fairways of municipal courses all across America; for the love, they demonstrated for the game of golf against great obstacles… the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Golf Association is proud to include The Foursome: Mr. George Johnson, Mr. Reuben Benton, Mr. Sylvester Johnson, and Mr. Leroy Doty, in the 2014 class of the Kansas City Golf Hall of Fame.


[1] read the full McCollough article at http://www.ncaatop25.com/integration.htm

Story written by contributing writer: Don Kuehn

February Funding Drive for Youth on Course

Did you know that Central Links Golf is responsible for funding Youth on Course in our region? Help us expand Youth on Course throughout the state of Kansas! Our goal is to raise $30,000 this February. Please consider donating $10 or more to support this initiative.