His personality is pretty much low key, laid back.
So when a phone call in mid-July from Southwest Kansas Pro-Am founding member and committee chair Kent Colvin, Tyler Woodrow was rendered speechless.
Understandably so when the news Colvin delivered to Woodrow was that he, Woodrow, would be the 2018 inductee into the Pro-Am Hall of Fame.
“I feel deeply honored to be included with some of the other people who have previously been inducted,” Woodrow said from his Wichita home during a recent telephone interview.
There’s a simple reason for Woodrow’s recognition and his long-time affiliation with the Pro-Am.
Aside from Colvin, who heads up High Plains Pizza, Inc., Woodrow is the only amateur player to participate in all 38 previous Pro-Am.
“I about fell out of my chair,” Woodrow said with a laugh when recalling the phone call. “I just about came to tears because I was thinking back to all the other who preceded me, and I’ve been fortunate to play in all 38, and look forward to my 39th.”
Memories are many for Woodrow, who owned Athletic Alley, a sporting goods store, in Liberal when the first Pro-Am was contested there in 1980. He helped with the design and purchasing of all the crystal awards for the first several years, including tee-shirts for the volunteers.
Woodrow said in addition to Colvin, the original founders included Sam Cobb, then the golf professional at Liberal Country Club, Larry Burkett of Dodge City and Southwest Distributing Company, as well as Garden City businessmen such as Paul Dart.
“The original idea that Sam and the others had was to move the tournament around the three main cities of southwest Kansas — Liberal, Garden City and Dodge City,” Woodrow recalled. “But after the third year (in Dodge City), I think Sam and the others recognized that Garden City had the two best golf courses and it made sense to have it in one location every year.”
So in 1983, the year Steve Jones would win the first of his two Pro-Am titles, the event landed its home firmly in Garden City at then Southwind Country Club (now The Golf Club at Southwind) and Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
The rest, they say, is history.
“It found its home and St. Catherine Hospital and the New Born Intensive Care Unit has been the recipient of the charity donations every year since,” Woodrow said.
A much younger Woodrow said playing in the early years would bring out the competitive fires, but as time has moved on, he sees the event more as a fun time to play, enjoy making new friends or rekindling old friendships, and feel good about helping donate money to a worthy cause.
“In those early years a lot of the players were club professionals and it just kind of grew from there by attracting some top golfers,” Woodrow said. “They were really good players and certainly when you look at the (alumni) list of the Pro-Am, it’s pretty impressive.
“Today, I think the tours have changed the overall field, and the tournament has become more a focus on raising money for the hospital.”
Woodrow said he recalled one year when his team’s golf pro barely made it to the tee on time, and then had a friend go to his car during the round and bring out a fifth of some (alcoholic) beverage.
“Well, we decided if he was going to drink and have fun, we might as well join in, so we did,” Woodrow joked. “He had forgotten his scorecard, too, and I’m pretty sure they had already been out on the town the night before. There’s a lot of funny stories along those lines.”
Woodrow, who played on the 2007 amateur team that captured the popular championship with a 29-under-par total, said one of the highlights came in 1982 when his pro was Matt Seitz, a native of Ellsworth and resident of Hutchinson who won that year’s Pro-Am in Dodge City.
“He was really good to play with and I think he was a representative of the club pro back then who could be competitive,” Woodrow said of Seitz. “I also played with Brian Montgomerie, who went on to win the tournament a couple of years after being our pro.”
Another year, Woodrow said the tournament was reduced to 27 holes for the amateur teams due to torrential rains.
“I remember it was a real gully-washer,” Woodrow said. “We played nine holes in a downpour and we got to No. 10 (at Southwind) and when you looked down the fairway, water was everywhere. It looked like a lake, but it was moving like a river. So they called it after 27 holes.”
Woodrow credits Colvin and the High Plains Pizza company for the continued support and success of the Pro-Am.
“I know a lot of the people from there after having lived in Liberal,” Woodrow said. “There’s so many good people who come and play. The camaraderie has been so much fun. It’s been a great event to play in and I’ve seen everybody’s attitude change to be able to focus on the fund-raising part of the event for the hospital.”
When discussing the Pro-Am, it was about 10 days prior to the 2018 Pro-Am and Woodrow was looking forward to his return to Garden City.
“It’s early August, and that means the Pro-Am,” Woodrow said. “It’s created a lot of memories for me, and I’m sure this will be among the best memories I have.”
Woodrow was to be inducted on the Wednesday prior to the start of the tournament.
He joins the previous inductees, including Bob Whippo (2010), Colvin (2011), Dr. Stephen Myers (2012), Paul Parker (2013), Bob Bluml (2014), E.C. Brookover Family (2015), Ron Schwartz (2016) and Kathy Koster (2017).