Eagle Bend flip-flop for comfort of fans
Front nine will become back nine for tournament
Regular patrons of Eagle Bend Golf Course initially may be confused while viewing the Lawrence Futures Golf Classic.
When the LPGA stepping-stone tournament is staged May 6-8 at Eagle Bend, the front nine at the course will become the back nine and vice versa.
“They’re flip-flopping the course,” Eagle Bend pro Jim Kane said, “because the No. 9 hole is closer to the clubhouse.”
Not only is Eagle Bend’s No. 18 hole farther from the clubhouse than No. 9, but it is shrouded by trees and not conducive to a large gallery.
However, the municipal course’s No. 9 hole has high visibility, and Futures Tour officials will set it up in such a way as to make it a potentially dynamic finishing hole.
“They plan to put the tee at 360 yards and with the prevailing southerly winds, I think it will be exciting,” Kane said. “We could see some eagles on that last hole.”
As Eagle Bend’s No. 9 hole is structured, 360 yards is the distance from the front tee, but that’s an anomaly in terms of the planned tournament format. Futures Tour officials won’t use the front tees on any other hole.
In fact, participants will drive from the back tees in a few of the boxes.
Tour officials have decided they want Eagle Bend to play at 6,365 yards, and they’ll set the tees in a variety of locations to achieve that standard. That distance, coincidentally, is virtually the same as it would be if they used the third tees in every box.
Under its current configuration, Eagle Bend’s length from the back tees is listed at 6,812 yards, while the third tees are measured at 6,367 yards, the second tees at 6,004 yards and the front tees at 5,471 yards.
When the LPGA Tour wannabes arrive for the first day of practice next Monday, they should find the seven-year-old course at the foot of Clinton Dam in optimum shape. It already was close to peak condition, Kane said.
“The weather has cooperated,” the course pro said. “It should really be in nice shape for the tournament.”
According to Fred DeVictor, head of the city’s parks and recreation department, the city will be paid $15,000 “plus a few other considerations” for making Eagle Bend available for the tournament.
At the same time, the city won’t have to make any course adjustments to satisfy Futures Tour officials.
“Their people weren’t demanding about narrowing the fairways or adding rough or speeding up the greens,” Kane said. “They want it to be in the same condition it’s in for public play.”
Nevertheless, Kane and his staff have added a few nuances.
“We’ve reshaped some of the fairways, but we were going to do that anyway,” he said. “And we’ve done some work on the greens. Our goal is to get them a little firmer and a little faster. That’s not what they wanted, it’s what we wanted.”
City officials also want spectators to have a pleasurable experience, so they have identified a grass area between the north driving range and the dam outlet as the best place for a public parking area. The main parking lot will be reserved for tourney officials and participants.
“We’ll have shuttles going back and forth to the parking area,” DeVictor said, “but people will still be able to walk if they want to.”
Lawrence will be the fifth of the 18 Futures Tour stops. The Tour this weekend will be in El Paso, Texas, for the IOS Classic.