Gov. Mike Hayden wasn't kidding Monday night when he told the crowd gathered at the local Putt-Putt Golf Course that his putting might not be up to par.
"As governor, I haven't played many rounds in 3 years," he said.
Hayden made an appearance at the Cottonwood Putt-Putt tournament, which kicked off the weeklong Kansas Open golf tournament. The Cottonwood tournament was conducted at the local Putt-Putt course, 3107 Iowa.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Cottonwood Inc., a community agency that provides vocational and residential training and support to developmentally disabled adults.
"It is such a special purpose for which we're gathered and that is to provide a quality of life for the developmentally disabled," Hayden told about 200 participants. "For many years, our society has overlooked both the abilities and the contributions of these special people. I appreciate the work done by Cottonwood and all its supporters."
HAYDEN THEN officially changed the name of the Kansas Open trophy to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Trophy to mark the 100th anniversary of Eisenhower's birth. He handed the award to Bob Billings, owner of Alvamar Country Club, who will present the trophy to the tournament winner at the end of the week. The tournament will be played on the Alvamar Golf Course.
Hayden teamed up with Albert Gauna, Cottonwood client, to putt the night's first ball. The governor held his thumb up in the air as if checking the direction of the wind and joked, "At least there's no water around."
The twosome finally sunk the ball at Hole 17 after six attempts, four strokes over par. Hayden seemed unchagrined and laughingly chatted with tournament participants before heading back to Topeka.
"I'VE WORKED on a lot of programs for the developmentally disabled, but this is the first time I've gotten involved with the Kansas Open," he said, adding that he hoped to attend the event later this week. "Being in the middle of a campaign, we get into town fairly often."
The governor commented on Sunday's poll published in the Kansas City Star that found 35 percent of Republicans who are likely to vote in the November general election would like to see Hayden serve another term as governor. Twenty-two percent said they would like to see Nestor Weigand in the office.
"I've never been ahead of anybody by 13 points in my life," Hayden said. "I'm overjoyed."
JUDY MORRIS, director of development and community relations at Cottonwood Inc., said the Putt-Putt tournament was "an initiation for the Kansas Open to help pinpoint the people that benefit from it."
Billings added, "I think that so many people have worked so hard and it's coming together beautifully. It's just a real, total community effort. It's really fun to see the Cottonwood clients getting involved with the rest of the community."
Morris said the agency hoped to raise close to $50,000 with the fourth annual golf tournament. Golfers from 23 states, Canada, South Africa and Australia are participating.