Some of the guests are golf crazy. Others are philanthropically minded. Still others just want a good time and an opportunity to pull off a casual golf chic ensemble.
Whatever the reason, guests come back time and again to the SPLURGE! Tee Off Party, held annually at the 18th green of Crestview Country Club’s North Course. This year’s party is June 19 and kicks off more than a week of events associated with the Air Capital Classic, a highlight on the Web.com Tour.
The party includes plenty of food and entertainment—and there’s a purpose, too. Each year, SPLURGE! chooses a beneficiary for the proceeds. Publisher Jody Klein says this year’s recipient is well known among SPLURGE! fans. Mike Carroll is a local photographer and photo editor in need of a heart transplant.
“Everyone knows him who is involved in SPLURGE! in any way because he takes all their photos,” Klein said. “Everyone loves him. He always has a smile on his face.”
Heart and Soul
Carroll’s got plenty of heart when it comes to his spirit, but when it comes to the organ, he simply needs a new one. He has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), an irregular heartbeat and congestive heart failure. He has a pacemaker installed as a backup, but his heart is functioning only at about 20 percent efficiency, he says.
Carroll, 45, has worked hard over the last couple of years to lose weight, eating better, undergoing bariatric surgery and keeping the pounds off. He sees a team of doctors regularly, including his primary physician, two cardiologists, a bariatric specialist, a kidney doctor and an eye doctor.
“I’m just trying to stay alive and keep active,” says Carroll, a former Junction City all-state football player. Carroll also played football for two years at Butler Community College and then in 1991 earned a graphic design degree from Wichita State University. Among other jobs, Carroll worked at the YMCA until mobility and heart issues became too much of a problem. He struggled for a few years but is happy to have the energy back to photograph SPLURGE! events and edit photos for Tobie Andrews Photography.
“Before I could barely walk 10 feet,” Carroll said. “Friends kind of went away when you don’t get to do anything…My favorite part of SPLURGE! is just the social aspect.”
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
The Tee Off Party is presented by Flint Hills Spas. Owner Jamil Toubassi said he was looking for a way to participate in the Air Capital Classic, and the SPLURGE! event fit the bill. “We’re just trying to be a little more out in the public,” he said.
The main business of Flint Hills is hot tubs, where a good soak is always refreshing. Toubassi hopes the partygoers will also be refreshed by all the food and drink. Carrabba’s Italian Grill will return as the caterer, and Sweetly Scrumptious will serve desserts. XClusive Event Services will run the open bar.
There’s a new after party this year, too, Klein said. At 10:30, guests who aren’t ready to call it a night can head over to Crestview Country Club for coffee, more desserts, entertainment and a cash bar.
The Tee Off Party wouldn’t be complete without a little golf-related fun to gear up for the following weekend’s tournament play.
The helicopter ball drop adds a dimension of showmanship to the party. Attendees can purchase a chance to have a golf ball dropped from a helicopter onto the green. As the guests hear the unmistakable thwack-thwack-thwack of the helicopter blades starting up, a hush falls over the crowd. While the chopper hovers in place over the hole, the balls are dropped on the green. The one that lands the closes to the hole wins that entrant $1,000.
Another party highlight is the putting contest. Four lucky guests will be paired with members of the KWCH Channel 12 team: morning anchor Jenn Bates, meteorologist Mark Larson, morning anchor Scott Evans and sports Anchor Will Kunkel.
Bates said she is looking forward to watching Wichitans come together for a cause. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed in my seven years in this city and state is how much the people here support one another,” she said. “I even feel like this city has adopted me as one of their own, and I hope the poor sap who becomes my putting partner for the event isn’t too disappointed in my lack of golf skills.”
Larson also appreciates the generous nature of the community. “Wichita folks really step up to help folks in need,” he said. “I remember a couple years ago at the Tee Off Party, the person who won the helicopter ball drop contest donated all the money to the cause without blinking an eye.”
Larson’s enthusiasm is known to outmatch his putting ability at times. “It’s always fun recruiting the putting contestants at the event that evening,” he said. “We go around and talk to everyone, and they buy tickets for a chance to play. Last year, my partner who didn’t golf and was left handed still made more putts than me.”
Klein said she has high expectations for the event and hopes more members of the community will support the tournament and help support the party’s beneficiary, Mike Carroll. “Every year, the party just gets bigger and bigger,” she said. “And every year, it just raises more and more.”
6th Annual SPLURGE! Tee-Off Party
Presented by Flint Hills Spas
6:30–10:00 p.m. on Friday, June 19
18th Green on Crestview Country Club’s North Course
To purchase tickets, go to aircapclassic.com and click on purchase tickets now.
Air Capital Classic
2015 tournament schedule aircapclassic.com
Crestview Country Club, 1000 N 127th St. E
Thursday June 18
• Credit Union of America Children’s Miracle Network Classic
Friday June 19
• SPLURGE! Tee-Off Party presented by Flint Hills Spas
Sunday June 21
• Wichita Aero Club Golf Classic
Monday June 22
• Via Christi Health / Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Pro-am
• Scholfield Shoot-out Tuesday June 23
• Marge Page Jr. Clinic
• Marge Page Pro-Am to Benefit Wichita Junior Golf Pairings Party
Wednesday June 24
• Marge Page Pro-Am to Benefit Wichita Junior Golf & Awards
Friday June 26
• Prairie Fire Coffee Breakfast
Thursday—Sunday June 25- 28
• Air Capital Classic Tournament Play