SW Kansas Pro-Am Committee ends Adams partnership





When the 2014 Southwest Kansas Pro-Am begins its week-long visit to Garden City Aug. 4 to 10, the annual charity event will be celebrating its 35th birthday.

Through its three-plus decades of existence, the Pro-Am has contributed nearly $900,000 to the St. Catherine Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

For the first 30 years, the Pro-Am was conducted solely by a group of local volunteers and the golf professionals at both Buffalo Dunes Golf Course and The Golf Club at Southwind.

The last four years, though, the event had been held as part of the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series, a Texas-based organization mini-tour, with members both young and veteran professionals.

In November, the two groups were unable to come up with an agreed-upon-date for 2014, and now the Pro-Am will return to its original structure of being a locally-run event.

That announcement came from Kelley Reeve, new Pro-Am Coordinator, who also serves as Philantrophy Coordinator for St. Catherine Hospital Development Foundation.

"The big reason for the decision came when the Adams people wanted to move the tournament to June, and that didn't work for us," Reeve said recently in an interview with The Telegram. "We discussed it quite a bit, and then there was talk of moving it to early July and the committee just couldn't do that."

Historically, the Pro-Am has been played the last weekend of July or the first part of August, and to move the event earlier into the summer schedule would have forced both golf courses and the 240 amateur contestants to make changes in their schedules. That just posed too many obstacles for everyone involved with the tournament.

"It's been a set event in August and that's a good time for us, for the players and for the golf courses," Reeve said. "If we were looking at a week or two difference in the schedule, that might have worked. But it just didn't work out for Adams. We've had a very good relationship with Adams and we wish them well."

With 60, four-man amateur teams, the minimum professional field to be full is 60. The professional entry fee has been lowered to $800 and thus Reeve and the committee believe it will be possible to recruit former Pro-Am players from Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and surrounding states to return to the event.

"We've got a lot of contacts through social media, too," Reeve said of Twitter and Facebook opportunities. "We have a great committee and the pros will be very helpful, too."

Most of the amateur field is taken up with sponsor teams, thus the big recruiting effort will be with the professional field, Reeve said.

Reeve said that in the early period of contacting potential players, the changes have been well received.

"I'm excited to get the word out that we're going back to the original format," Reeve said.

The 54-hole professional tournament will begin on Aug. 8 (Fri.) when the pros are paired with the amateur teams. After Saturday's second round, the professional field will be cut to the low one-third of the entries. That group will then play Sunday's final round on Aug. 10 at The Golf Club at Southwind. Amateurs will only play the first two days, just as they had done for the first 30 years and last year, when the tournament first returned to the original format after three years of 72-hole tournaments with amateurs golfing with the professionals on the final two days of the event.

"We're anticipating that this will allow more people to come out and watch the final day," Reeve said.

While the total professional purse has yet to be set, the first-place check of $15,000 has been established. Pioneer Communications and Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc. have combined to fund the $15,000 champions' check. The remainder of the pro purse will be returned 100 percent from their entry fees.

The week-long tournament begins on Aug. 4 with the Ulysses Shootout at Bentwood Golf Course. On Aug. 6, there will be a Ladies Pro-Am at Buffalo Dunes. The Lewis Motors Corporate Shootout will be on Aug. 7. In addition to those events, the Pro-Am will conduct a Junior Clinic on the evening of Aug. 7 at Buffalo Dunes. On Aug. 8, there will be a Ladies Fashion Show at Samy's Spirits and Steakhouse. Also on that day, there will be a Long Drive Contest at The Golf Club at Southwind and a Helicopter Ball Drop.

On Aug. 6, the Pro-Am will induct Bob Bluml, former golf course superintendent at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, into its Hall of Fame. Bluml oversaw the Dunes from 1978 to 2008 before retiring. With the Pro-Am's inaugural year of 1980, Bluml saw to the care of the Dunes for the first 28 Pro-Ams.

Past inductees into the Hall of Fame include Paul Parker, former Buffalo Dunes golf professional; Bob Whippo, committee member; Kent Colvin, one of the original founders of the event; and Dr. Stephen Meyers, one of the founders of the St. Catherine Hospital NBICU.

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