Unique prize celebrates Wichita Open's 30th year

Written by Amy Palser

The grand prize awarded to the winner of the golf ball drop contest has been a highlight of every Wichita Open SPLURGE! Party, but this year’s one-of-a-kind memento took some serious time and legwork — and plenty of help from the PGA Tour.

The prize that will go home with one lucky winner is a framed Wichita flag signed by 27 of the last 30 winners of the Wichita Open golf tournament. “It will definitely be a collector’s item,” said Roy Turner, Wichita Open tournament director.

The Wichita Open started in 1989 at Reflection Ridge Golf Club and is celebrating its 30th birthday. This year’s tournament runs June 13–23.

Tracking down all of the Wichita Open winners was quite the feat, Turner said. “We finally got the signatures. It was a long process but we got help from the Tour. We missed three, but the 27 we have are all authentic signatures.”

Among the signatures are golf legends Tom Lehman, David Toms, David Duval, Jason Dufner and Aaron Wise.

The Wichita Open 30th Birthday Bash hosted by SPLURGE! is June 15 at Crestview Country Club. The $85 all-inclusive ticket price will cover your party needs for the entire evening. Turner said this year’s SPLURGE! Party, which celebrates both the 30th birthday of the Wichita Open and the 10th anniversary of the magazine hosting a party in conjunction with the tournament, will be even bigger and better than past years.

“There’s two parties: One on the green and one at the concert,” Turner said. The evening’s festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with the golf ball drop on the 18th green. Partygoers can purchase a numbered golf ball for $50 at the event. Ten balls will be randomly selected to be dropped by helicopter onto the green. The ball that lands closest to the 18th hole is the winner of the framed flag.

During the party on the green from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., partygoers can mingle while enjoying food from Abuelo’s, LaVela, Scotch & Sirloin, and Carraba’s Italian Grill.

Then the party moves to a specially built stage where The Fabulous Shirtheads will perform. The band, a fixture of the Wichita music scene, is known for onstage comedy and antics, along with a solid, danceable playlist. Guests should bring blankets and lawn chairs for the concert, or they can purchase a Wichita Open anniversary chair for $20 at the party, while supplies last.

From 8:30 to 11 p.m. guests can enjoy food from Freddy’s, Papa John’s and Chick-fil-A. The birthday bash also features fireworks on the green during the concert, courtesy of Krehbiel Wholesale Fireworks.

Proceeds from this year’s event, including the sale of contest golf balls, go to the Wichita nonprofit Envision, which improves the quality of life and provides inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired. It does this through employment as well as by outreach, rehabilitation, education and research.

“I really encourage people to come because it’s going to be great,” Turner said. “It’s a whole new SPLURGE! party.”

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