The Wichita Open

Talented field of golfers welcomed back to Wichita

Written by Julie Schillings

Common courtesy and golf etiquette expects an element of silence on the course, and there will be plenty of it at this year’s Wichita Open where no spectators will be allowed.

Due to the evolving dynamics with the Covid-19 pandemic, the longstanding Wichita Open tournament was rescheduled from June to September 21–27. Proceeding with an abundance of caution, the PGA and local tournament officials have decided to hold the tournament without an audience.

“Our priority is, and always will be, to do what is best for the community,” said Wichita Open tournament director Roy Turner.

The Wichita Open has been held annually at Crestview Country Club since 2001, and will proceed in a much different fashion for 2020. The tournament, pro-ams and charity golf events will all take place with safety procedures in place.

Turner and his staff are working closely with the PGA, as well as local, state and federal agencies, to ensure the well-being of all who are allowed onsite during tournament week. Safety protocols will require that all golfers and caddies be tested for Covid-19 prior to arriving in Wichita, and those playing in the pro-am events will also be tested. Once in Wichita, players, officials and staff will be in a local player bubble. Crestview will block off dining areas and restrooms for those in the bubble at the clubhouse as an added effort to keep the players, volunteers and staff safe.

“The support and thoroughness of the PGA has been quite incredible,” Turner said. “Our staff and local partners have worked hard to ensure we are well equipped and ready for the tournament.”

The Wichita Open is a stop on the Korn Ferry Tour, the circuit known as the path to the PGA Tour. The resounding crowd response that welcomes players to the 17th green has become synonymous with the Wichita Open. “Our 17th is quite renowned,” Turner said, “and many players have mentioned that they will miss the fans in Wichita this year.”

Golfers are accustomed to tournaments with fans dotting the fairways and grandstands and framing the greens. Players have learned to adapt to events without spectators this season. The lack of crowd noise has influenced how players manage their way around the course. For instance, on blind approach shots to greens, golfers often rely on fans’ reaction to determine just how good a shot is. Turner also mentioned that moving the Wichita Open from June to September reduces the number of daylight hours, so players will need to get on and off the course in a condensed time frame.

The Wichita Open has a tradition of supporting local youth, and last year $200,000 was donated to local charities. Although Wichita-area golf fans will miss watching the tournament in person, they may still provide support by participating in one of the pro-ams or charity events that coincide with the Wichita Open. A few of the options include: the Credit Union of America Charity Golf Classic benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network, the Auggie Navarro Golf Outing benefiting the Scholarship Foundation and Wesley Kids Tee-Off Against Cancer. More information is available online at wichitaopen.com.

Turner appreciates the continued support of the sponsors and looks forward to welcoming fans back next year to the Wichita Open, which is scheduled for June 14–20, 2021. Until then, Turner said, “I know the players really appreciate the safety protocols that have been put in place by the PGA and our community, which is welcoming them and abiding by increased safety measures too.”

 
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