Bigger and better party of the summer

SPLURGE! Night at Wichita Open

Written by Amy Palser

When two birthdays occur simultaneously, you know it’s time to celebrate outrageously. Get ready for the party of the summer when the Wichita Open commemorates its 30th birthday and SPLURGE! hosts its 10th tournament party.

The Wichita Open 30th Birthday Bash — a highlight of the weeklong Wichita PGA Tour event — will be even bigger and better this year. The event starts at 6:30 p.m., June 15 at Crestview Country Club. “We’re giving it a shot in the arm this year,” said Roy Turner, Wichita Open tournament director. “We wanted to change things up just a little bit.”

SPLURGE! publisher Jody Klein agrees. “If you have never attended our SPLURGE! Night, this year’s party is the one you won’t want to miss. Purchase your tickets now, because with all the upgrades and a limited number of tickets, we are expecting to sell out.” The $85 ticket price includes food, beverages and entertainment for the entire evening.

Turner said this year’s party has been moved to Saturday night to allow more people to attend. The evening starts with the golf ball drop on the green, a SPLURGE! party tradition that will be quicker and more low-key this year. “Our friend and pilot Chuck Schreiber of Kansas Copters flies one of his beautiful helicopters and hovers over the 18th green, and then drops 10 selected golf balls to see which one lands closest to the hole,” Klein said. “You just have to be standing around the green to really get the full effect. It’s quite majestic.”

Following the golf ball drop, the Fabulous Shirtheads, a fixture of the Wichita music scene, will perform on a specially built stage on the course. The band is known for onstage comedy and antics, along with a solid, danceable playlist. Turner said the Shirtheads are a fitting part of the lineup as they were the first band he hired to play at Wichita Open festivities 20 years ago.

Guests should bring blankets and lawn chairs for the concert, or they can purchase a Wichita Open anniversary lawn chair for $20 at the party (while supplies last). A number of food vendors will offer fabulous food choices during the concert, including Abuelo’s, The Candle Club, Chick-fil-A, and Freddy’s.

“We’re encouraging casual dress,” Turner said. “Anybody who’s been before will see a big change, with more entertainment and more things to do. People who have never been before will be attracted by a whole evening of entertainment.”

The birthday bash continues after the concert with a fireworks show on the green, courtesy of Krehbiel Wholesale Fireworks. All in all, Turner said, it’s going to be a great night of both celebrating and raising money for a good cause.

Proceeds from this year’s event will go to Envision, an 86-year-old Wichita agency whose mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired. It does this through employment — the Envision factory manufactures janitorial supplies through a workforce made up of people who are blind or visually impaired — as well as by outreach, rehabilitation, education and research.

This year’s “incredible” raffle prize at SPLURGE! Night is a pet project for Turner. He’s working to get 30 past Wichita Open champions to sign a City of Wichita flag. “The PGA Tour is tracking the golfers down for us,” Turner said. “It will be in a beautiful frame and it will definitely be a collector’s item.”

Klein said one of the most popular questions she is asked about SPLURGE! Night is what to wear. “For ladies, I say a cute sundress or romper — whatever you can wear with wedges or flats. You don’t want your heels sinking into the grass and getting stuck!” Men can wear dress shorts and a button-down or polo-style shirt.

“Remember, it can get a little warm, but we have air-conditioned chalets to help make the evening more comfortable,” she said.

The Wichita Open started in 1989 at Reflection Ridge Golf Club and was one of the stops on the Ben Hogan professional golf tour. As it has grown, the tournament moved to Willowbend Golf Club in 1997, and finally to Crestview in 2001.

The tournament is known, among other things, for its fun and rowdy atmosphere on the 17th green. The 50 boxes surrounding that hole draw about 4,000 people a day during the tournament. In 2018, the Wichita Open raised $207,000 for local charities. The event has an economic impact on the Wichita area of $6.5 million annually.

The Wichita Open runs June 13-23. For more information on the tournament or to purchase tickets for the Wichita Open 30th Anniversary Birthday Bash, visit wichitaopen.com or call 316.219.9046.

 
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