Golf in all 50 States

It is often hard for us as working individuals to find time to play golf at our home club throughout the year. However, despite the busyness of our lives, we always find time to sneak in a round here and there. For Gary Kipp, his life journey with golf started as a simple hobby but turned into something much greater – a national exploration of golf. Gary Kipp, a retired Navy Flight Officer and Commander from Wichita, Kansas, has played a round of golf in all 50 states in the United States of America.

Playing golf, let alone in all 50 states, was not a goal of his to start with – Gary grew up in Wichita in Hilltop, right across the street from LW Clapp Golf Course, and had a paper route that took a paper to LW Clapp every morning. He borrowed a set of golf clubs and started playing golf at the age of 14 in 1960. He recalls the greens fees at his home club were only 75 cents a day to play all day. Oh, how nice it would be to play for 75 cents today! Gary said, “72 holes a day was a piece of cake!”

As his love for the game grew over time, Gary began to play at the courses located in military bases across the country as he traveled. Six months after he graduated from Fort Hays State University, Gary was drafted into the Navy. He became a Naval Flight Officer flying in P3 Orions, whose primary mission was to hunt and track submarines. After completing 4 years active duty and 21 years in the Naval Air Reserve, he retired as a Commander (LtCol) in the Navy when he was 48. Throughout his journey in the Navy, he began to play more and more courses located within military bases, which got him thinking he could really complete his 50 states goal. Here are some of Gary’s highlights of his golfing journey across the United States and many military bases:

  • Alaska: Gary remembers being on a 13-man flight there… he was the only passenger with golf clubs. Gary played at the Elmendorf Air Force Base, in Anchorage, AK. Gary said, “You see a lot of deer in Kansas, but in Alaska, I was able to see a few moose!”
  • In California, Gary not only played at the course located at the North Island Naval Air Station, but he also played famous courses such as Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and others. Gary says, “this was his most memorable experience of all 50 states.”
  • In Boston, Gary played a round and then rented a car, went to Maine to play golf, then drove to play more golf in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island’s Newport Naval Station, and then back to Boston and he flew home. “One-week trips really helped knock out my goals”, Gary said.
  • The last two stops in Gary’s journey of golf in all 50 states were to Idaho and Montana. Gary flew to Spokane, WA, and rented a car and drove to Idaho. In Idaho, he played the Coeur d’Alene Island Green Course (pictured below, one of Gary’s favorites).
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  • Once he finished playing in Idaho, he drove the next day to Anaconda, Montana, to the Old Works Golf Course for his final state (#50). The course was unique, as it was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is famous for its black bunkers and waste areas composed of crushed black slag leftover from copper mining in the area. Quite the unique course to end on!
  • The most difficult states to cross off were the western states because of how expansive it is. “I couldn’t play them the same way as the northeastern states. It was almost an effort to knock one state off at a time in that area… Oregon was hard. I had to wait until I visited a cousin in Portland at Pumpkin Ridge (another of Gary’s favorites). Luckily, I crossed off Washington when I played in Seattle while I was in the Navy Reserves.”

Once the journey was over in Montana, Gary was elated that he finally completed his amazing goal, but he also realized he needed to find a new goal. “After I did it, I told my buddy, ‘Rich, it’s all over. I don’t have anything else to look forward to now. Somebody just let all the air out of the hot air balloon.’”

Gary is still heavily involved in golf and other aspects of his community. For the past twenty years, Gary has made an impact in his community through the caddy program at Flint Hills and as a golf coach. In 1996, Gary went through a professional golf coaching seminar in Phoenix, Arizona, and became certified to teach golf. When he came back to Wichita, to McConnell AFB, he taught golf there for about 5 years, between 1997-2001. Once the unfortunate events of “9/11” struck our country, it became hard to get onto the base and then the golf course closed. Once that ended, his attention turned to the caddy program. In 1997, Flint Hills National opened and developed a caddy program. Caddies got to play free on Monday, so Gary started caddying there. After a few years, Gary became an instructor for the caddies at Flint Hills for 17 years, between 2001-2018.

Gary is still a busy man who is finding new goals to set – his most recent goal that he hit was shooting his age. Gary shot a round of 73 one month after completing his “50 states” goal. Gary has experienced a lot of amazing things throughout his life, but he will never forget his life journey of playing golf in all 50 states. Gary said, “I can’t say that I liked every course, I played some just because I was traveling through there, but it was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget.”

No matter the course, no matter the score, it is always a blessing to be able to play the beautiful game that is golf. Gary’s story is a special one and should motivate us all to go out and make time for a round of golf – no matter which state it’s in.

Story written by Nelson Searcy.

Milburn CC Raises nearly $5,000 for Youth on Course

By Taylor Albritton, KCGA Intern

Saturday, April 28th, Milburn Country Club held their opening day tournament for the benefit of their members and to kick off the summer season. One member in particular, Dave Jackson, took the opportunity upon himself to raise awareness and money for the local Youth on Course program.

During the duration of the opening day tournament, Jackson perched himself on the #1 tee and passed out information packets as well as advocated for the importance of the Youth on Course program in Kansas City to Milburn members as they passed through. His persuasiveness paid off in a big way. In one day, Jackson and Milburn CC were able to raise nearly $5,00o from its members specifically for the Youth on Course program. On top of a successful donation of nearly $2,000 earlier in the year, Milburn CC has managed to raise almost $7,000 for Youth on Course in 2018 alone.

Despite being a private club and not being able to personally benefit from Youth on Course services, Milburn CC has done a great thing for its Kansas City community.

“It’s great to see private clubs embracing Youth on Course,” said Doug Habel, Executive Director of the Kansas City Golf Association.

“The success of Youth on Course will ensure the success and future of these private clubs for years to come. I hope the rest of the private clubs around Kansas City will also take opportunities such as this to help such an important program.”

Youth on Course is great program that supports local kids’ desire to play golf at an affordable and less competitive environment. In order to keep the game of golf relevant and important for many years to come, the youth movement must continue to grow. Please join us and the many other golf associations in supporting your local Youth on Course program.

A big thank you to Milburn Country Club for their amazing contribution!

Club Champion Now Open in the Kansas City

Club Champion Now Open in the Kansas City Area

Golfers Choose from 35,000 Head & Shaft Combinations

Willowbrook, IL — Club Champion, the country’s #1 premium golf club fitting and building company, announces the opening of its new Kansas City fitting studio in Overland Park, Kansas at 7400 W. 121st Street.

Club Champion fits, sells, and builds custom golf clubs constructed from clubheads, shafts, and grips from the best brands in golf including Callaway, TaylorMade, Ping, Titleist, PXG, Fujikura, Golf Pride and many more. The company delivers a Tour-quality fitting that produces longer, more accurate shots, with a nearly 100% satisfaction rate for golfers of any ability level.

The new location features approximately 3,000 square feet of space and has been designed to showcase Club Champion’s premium fitting experience and 35,000 hittable clubhead and shaft combinations. The studio includes two indoor hitting bays with Trackman launch monitors for analyzing performance, a SAM PuttLab’s fitting system to find the perfect putter on their practice green, and a build shop for repairing and assembling golf clubs by hand.

“We are excited to bring the finest club fitting and building to the Kansas City area,” said Joe Lee, CEO and president of Club Champion. “Our approach is unbiased, with no promotion of any specific vendors. Our only goal is to find the best combination of components to help customers hit longer, more accurate shots, and lower their scores and enjoy the game more.”

Ranked by Golf Digest as one of the 100 Best Club Fitters eight years running, Club Champion hires experienced fitters who then receive an additional 150+ hours of training before starting their job; unmatched in the golf industry. The company has a unique coupling system that allows them to combine any head and shaft together, so golfers hit the precise combination to be custom built for them. They are the only fitter in the country to offer 35,000 interchangeable head and shaft combinations on-site, at all locations. Golfers get to hit the exact club that will be custom built for them.

Says Lee, “Our unrivaled fitters and demo options generate unmatched results. A recent Golf Magazine study showed our average customer gained 22 yards off the tee, 15 yards with their irons and lowered their scores by 3 strokes. Many players think they aren’t good enough to be custom fit. But the study showed that higher-handicappers saw the biggest gains. Some of these golfers gained as much as 25 more yards with their drivers and shaved as many as 10 strokes per round.”


With advances in club technology, most golfers could easily hit the ball farther and more accurately, yet a Golf Magazine study found that 90% of US golfers may be playing with improperly fit clubs. Club Champion endorser and world-renowned golf instructor David Leadbetter stated, “It never ceases to amaze me that golfers buy clubs off the shelf and assume they’re right for them. Whether you’re a great golfer or a casual one, getting a custom club fitting is one of the quickest ways to improve your game.”

To celebrate the new opening, for a limited time (see website for details), the Kansas City store will offer 50% off full bag fittings, normally $350 (now $175), and 33% off driver, fairway wood, long game, hybrid, wedge, and putter fittings. This store opening special will run until March 31, 2018. The studio is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  More information on the company can be found at or by calling (888) 340-7820.

 About Club Champion

Established in 2010, Club Champion is a national club fitting and building company headquartered in Chicago, IL. The company currently has 28 studios in major markets across the country and will be adding 11 new locations by Summer 2018. The studios carry all the top golf club, shaft, and grip manufacturers in the industry, which allows for 35,000+ equipment combinations for customers to trial. Studios are equipped with advanced analysis technology with highly trained certified fitters and builders that must complete an extensive training program. Services include custom fitting and building for all club purchases, repair services, personalization, and highly engaging corporate and personal entertainment events. For more information about Club Champion, visit

The 2018 Kansas City Golf Show is Coming Up!

Kansas City Golf Show • Feb. 16-18 • Overland Park Convention Center

The Kansas City Golf Show returns to the Overland Park Convention Center, Feb. 16-18, 2018, with even more great deals, fun activities, incredible giveaways, and the largest gathering golf retailers and exhibitors under one roof in the entire state! This is our biggest year yet! Get fitted and take advantage of the seasons lowest on name-brand clubs and equipment from the industry’s top manufacturers, be the first to try out hot new clubs for free on an indoor driving range. Play fun skills contests featuring thousands of dollars in prizes, take a free lesson from a top PGA pro, or visit special areas for golf travel and other exciting activities. In addition, attendees will receive a front door goody bag including free rounds of golf and more! For more information, visit

Mays and Shelton Claim KC Match Play Titles

It was championship Sunday today at Swope Memorial, as new Women’s Kansas City Match Play and Men’s Kansas City Match Play champions were both crowned.

In the morning, Lacy Shelton and Erin Carney squared off in the women’s match. Shelton got off to a slow start and found herself 2-down after bogeys on 2 out of the first 3 holes. She quickly squared the match with wins on the 5th and 6th holes, but double-bogeyed the 9th to make the turn at 1-down. A birdie at the 10th and a  birdie at the 13th, however, turned the match in her favor, giving her a 1-up lead. The players would halve the last 5 holes, to give Shelton the 1-up win. Shelton is the first Women’s Kansas City Match Play champion since the event was discontinued in 1978.

In the men’s final, Travis Mays took on Scott Schaeffer for the title. Schaeffer, the #32 seed, had proven to be a very difficult man to eliminate over the three days of competition, but Mays was up to the task. Schaeffer jumped out to a quick 3-up lead, as Mays struggled to find his form early. Mays fought the lead back to 1-up at the turn, squared the match with a birdie on the 12th, and then went 1-up with a birdie on the 13th. Schaeffer never gave in, birdieing the 17th to force the match to the 18th, but ultimately Mays prevailed 1-up.

The KCGA would like to thank all that participated, as well as the staff at Swope Memorial and all of the KCGA volunteers that came out to help.

Schaeffer, Foth, Barry and Mays Make Advance to Semifinals

Day 2 of the 2017 Kansas City Match Play Championship is in the books.

Semifinal #1 will be played between Scott Schaeffer and Jackson Foth. Schaeffer, who survived an 8-person playoff to make match play, beat John Lovell and Drew Hatten on his way to the semifinals. Jackson Foth, the 2016 runner-up, breezed past Alex Forristal and beat Jay Gregory 2-up to advance.

In semifinal #2, Matt Barry will square off against Travis Mays for the right to play for the title. Barry, a recent UMSL grad, bested Jason Adkins in the round of round of 16 and Mark Terranova in the quarterfinals. Mays reached the semifinal with wins over Kyle Smell and Doug Albers.

The semifinals will be played Friday, May 21st, at 7:30am.

Four Advance to US Open Sectionals

U.S. Open Local Qualifying was held Monday, May 15th at the Golf Club at Creekmoor.

65 players teed it up for a shot a advancing to sectional qualifying and then onto the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in June.

On a warm, windy day on a tough golf course, four players were able to get around at even par or better and punch their tickets to sectionals.

Former Colorado Buffalo Justin Bardgett took home Medalist honors with a 70. Former Missouri Tiger Jace Long shot 71. Local amateur Alex Forristal and UMKC Kangaroo Sam Humphrey’s rounded out the group with 72’s.

Chris Thompson defeated Keenai Sampson in a playoff to earn 1st alternate.

Click here for complete results.

Volunteer, Coach with The First Tee of Greater Kansas City

first teeLooking for ways to grow the game and impact the lives of junior golfers across Kansas City?

Visit the First Tee of Greater Kansas City and see how you can volunteer your time, knowledge and resources to benefit the next generation of golfers.

The First Tee is currently searching for volunteers and volunteer coaches to assist in their mission of teaching life lessons through golf.

Visit their website or facebook page to find out more information.

Event Registrations Open March 1

The season is right around the corner for many golfers across the United States, including in Kansas City.

Schedules for both the KCGA regional championships, Kansas City StateLine Amateur Tour and Kansas City Junior Tour are all available on the website. Registrations for these events open at 10 a.m. March 1.

Area golfers may also begin posting scores to their handicap starting March 1.

Youth On Course memberships also activate on the same date, allowing YOC members to use their memberships at local courses. For a complete list of YOC participating golf facilities, click here.

For questions regarding competition registrations, contact Todd Stice,

Questions about your handicap or posting scores should be directed to Jacque Madison,

Shoal Creek Golf Club hosts the second round of the Kansas City Amateur Championships Saturday
Event registrations open March 1. Handicap scores may also be posted.