The first day of the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am couldn’t have gone much better for a number of the amateur teams.
Both Buffalo Dunes Golf Course (par 72) and The Golf Club at Southwind (par 71) had teams record opening-round 57s to set the bar high for today’s final round.
At Buffalo Dunes, the team of Kelly Rotolo, Brian Riddle, David Herring, Jeffrey Weeast and Carlo Walton carded their score in their 8 a.m. start from the first tee.
They were paired with professional Andy Connell.
“One of our guys (Walton) got a hole-in-one on the number-four hole, which kind of got us going for the day,” Weeast said.
“It makes the day go really well,” he added. “I think we were through five holes before our group had to use the putter twice. Between our pro and the hole-in-one, we had only putted two times.”
Connell, their pro, finished the day shooting a 1-over 73. Weeast said his team used Connell’s score every time he got a birdie (that happened four or five times, Weeast said) and used his shots a few times. They will be playing Saturday without a pro.
That good start contributed to his group’s low score, he said, adding that they were really shooting for 8-under. The early start played a part, too.
“A little chilly in the morning, but once it warmed up it was really a beautiful day,” Weeast said.
And no problem with any wind to speak of. His group took four pars, the eagle, and 13 birdies to complete its 57. Weeast noted that his group is part of a larger group of 30 others with the Pizza Hut corporation.
“We just go for bragging rights,” Weeast said. “We didn’t even know we were leading until (just after 7 p.m.). I know we had done well. I just didn’t know it was that good.”
They’re not really a competitive team, he added.
“We’re just out to have fun. Somehow, we lucked together a pretty good round,” he said.
Weeast and company will tee off at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
At Southwind, the team of Chad Koster, Mike Wall, Barry Lucas, Marcus Amerin and Kory Koehn teed off at 1 p.m. off the front side to record their leading score.
That group, all representing American Implement, played without a professional Friday but will have pro Chris Thompson for Saturday’s round.
Koster’s group fired eagles at holes 3 and 5, took two pars and the rest birdies for a 26 on their front side.
“Then, we go onto the back side and we were 11-under after 11 holes,” Koster explained, “and then we kind of hit a brick wall.”
His group scored just one birdie to go with four pars over the next five holes.
“We were just 12-under going into number 17, but we chipped in to get to 13-under and we birdied number 18,” he added.
One player knocked in two 30-foot putts, which added some excitement to the round, as well, Koster said.
“We kind of got out of our rhythm for a bit, but fortunately that chip in on 17 got us going again,” he said.
Koster said the afternoon start was a factor as the wind picked up in the later hours.
“The wind kicked up and the back nine played tough. Those first five holes (10-14) were really tough going into the wind,” he said.
Saturday at Buffalo Dunes — in the morning and with a pro — Koster said he knows his group will have fun, but a good score would be great.
“With this team we have, I think we can do it,” he said.
And after hearing of the hole-in-one at Dunes, he added, “That could be us tomorrow.”
One stroke off the lead from Buffalo Dunes (58) was the group of Marty Cook, Jeff Weeast, Trevor Watkins, Andrew O’Brate and Chad Magner.
That group teed off at 7:45 a.m., just ahead of the leaders.
Also carding a 58 at Southwind were Jason Drohman, Dan Dreiling, Jay Main, Scott Ackerman and Victor Hawkins.
That group teed off at noon.
Two other groups each from both courses carded 59s and five groups were tied at 60, making for a tight leader board going into today’s final.