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Jan 12

Golf Log VIII-Kansas, at the Heart of It All

Golf in Kansas

My GPS calculates that the center of the United States sits somewhere around Sterling, Kansas, but I write this sitting in front of the fire in Lawrence, situated toward the eastern border, shared with Missouri.

Kansas and Missouri have a special relationship, and not always a pretty one. In the 19th century, Quantrill, under the orders of John Brown, attacked the town of Lawrence and burned it to the ground, killing many innocent people. Kansas retaliated, naturally, and burned down the Missouri town of Liberty. The Lawrence Massacre and subsequent events came to be known as the “Bleeding Kansas,” based on their differing views of abolition. Attend any athletic event between the two universities, and you’ll see some of that venom still present.

kansas 1Yesterday, I walked through the Allen Fieldhouse, a pantheon of championships in multiple sports, situated at the edge of Kansas University’s beautiful campus. Of course, basketball is huge here, and Wilt Chamberlin was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the inventor of basketball was the first coach here. Wandering through the halls, however, it is clear that golf is not neglected, and the university has a full competitive schedule, beginning with the Florida State Invitational in February, and finishing up with full conference championship events.

Recruiting, as is usual here, runs at a pretty good level, and the university teams are always in the thick of things. Both the men and women have added some golfers ranked in the top 50 nationally, and the best of their states, including the top male golfer of Kansas. One might not put too much stock in that, considering the low population, but that’s not the way it works in Kansas, not in this game. This part of the Midwest habitually produces good golf stock.
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New additions to the men’s team include top Kansas prospect, Chase Hanna, Jacques Wilson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, and Danny Summers, a Kansas up-and-comer from Mission Hills. The women’s team is busy signing powerful players as well, with the addition of Minami Levonowich and Pornvipa Faiiz (from London, England).

kansas 2Lawrence sports some excellent courses for private and public play. Look up either the Alvamar Country Club or the Alvamar Public Course. Either way, you should be pleased. Other recommendations include the Lawrence Country Club or the Endora Riverview Golf Course. The area offers a handful of nicely laid-out nine-hole courses as well.

One or two myths should be dispelled here. For starters, Lawrence lies a short distance from the foothills of the Ozarks, so your lie, in fairway or rough, isn’t necessarily going to be flat one. The topography of this region may appear flat, but has a gentle roll as well, not to mention that most course designers aren’t going to let you get away with leveled lies, possessing the little hint of mean-streak that they do. Further, a visiting player must not assume that everything’s going to be dry. Kansas boasts a bright sunlit view, but much of that takes place in the winter. Summer rain is a normal component, there is a river system that comes out of the Missouri, and the family I know here has made three or four trips to their tornado shelter in the past three years – don’t be alarmed…I’m just saying.

The rough is always best made from what the environment provides, so work on curing that slice if you’re allergic to wheat or corn. Those caveats aside, you should really have a great time here in the heartland.

 

 

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.