Buffalo Dunes to host national AJGA event in early June
By BRETT MARSHALL
Buffalo Dunes Golf Course has hosted the state's best junior golfers, both with high school championships for girls and boys and hosting Kansas Golf Association state junior events such as the one in June 2012.
For the first time, however, the Dunes will host a national junior tournament — the American Junior Golf Association Kansas Junior — from June 3 to 6.
The 54-hole tournament will attract 96 players, approximately 24 girls and 72 boys, for the three-day event.
"You've got a lot of juniors who are from high income families who will fly in, some will drive in who live regionally to our area," said Cole Wasinger, Buffalo Dunes club professional. "They'll be staying four to five nights here, eating in town, spending money here. It's a great opportunity for the community."
The AJGA is recognized as the top organization for competitive junior golfers, with a world-wide membership in excess of 6,000. Annually, the organization conducts approximately 100 events around the United States and overseas.
"We want to have events where our members are, and with Garden City we can attract our members from Dallas, Oklahoma City, Denver, Colorado Springs," said Darren Nelson, the AJGA's South Central regional manager, who is a native Kansan from Lindsborg. "I had heard a lot about Buffalo Dunes, but had never been there until we'd had discussions with Cole. He was able to put things together, I came up last June and did a site visit."
To nobody's surprise, Nelson came away impressed.
"They got a title sponsor, got a committee organized, the dates worked out and that's how we came to get the tournament in Garden City," Nelson said. "I was very impressed with Garden City — the golf course is great, the hotel space is very good and the community I think will be very capable of hosting one of our events."
Another feather in the cap for the decision was the new airline service provided by American Eagle from Dallas to Garden City. That factored into the AJGA's decision, Nelson said.
"I did some research into that as it was definitely a concern on how we would get some of the players there," Nelson said. "But with the kids and their families able to fly in from Kansas City, Dallas, it made the decision a lot easier."
The schedule will call for an 18-hole qualifier on June 1, which will likely have one or two spots available for girls and two to four spots for the boys. On June 2, there will be a Junior Am, where community and area amateurs are paired with the junior competitors. Wasinger hopes to have between 10 to 14 teams for that one-day event. A practice round is scheduled that afternoon for the remainder of the field.
There is no 18- or 36-hole cut in the tournament so all 96 competitors play the entire 54 holes.
"We're very fortunate in that we have a lot of members and we've not had a field that hasn't been full for quite some time," Nelson said. "I would expect that we will have a waiting list with a number of players on it."
According to Wasinger, he approached the Finney County Convention and Tourism Bureau for financial support and the CVB approved funding in the amount of $30,000. Some of that money will underwrite tournament expenses and once all expenses have been paid, the AJGA will divide the proceeds on a 50-50 basis, with the local proceeds going to the Friends of Buffalo Dunes, a recently formed 501c(3) non-profit organization that will provide funding for non-budgeted projects at Buffalo Dunes. The AJGA donates its proceeds to its ACE Grant program.
Founded in 1989, AJGA alumni include Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Tiger Woods, Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.