There is some bad news for the men’s golfers vying for the Lawrence Amateur Golf Association’s city championship this weekend at Alvamar.
After a one-year hiatus, five-time LAGA champion Conrad Roberts, a former Kansas University golfer, is back in the field.
Roberts won every city crown from 2006 to 2010 before missing 2011 because of a scheduling conflict. Alvamar head golf pro David Dunn said Roberts, with his experience playing at the college level and ability to manage his game, has to be considered the overall favorite when the first round of play begins this morning on Alvamar’s public course.
That doesn’t mean the rest of the field has no shot, though. Dunn said Tyler Cummins, runner-up in 2010, and Will Gantz have a legitimate chance to win the two-day tournament. Plus, tournament director David Lerner said Kyle Ritchie and former KU golf coach Kit Grove could be considered among the favorites.
“I think we’ve got a pretty large number of good golfers,” Lerner said, “especially on the men’s side of the tournament, so I think it should be really interesting.”
Roberts, Cummins, Ritchie and Grove all tee off in the last group of the morning at 9:14. Gantz is playing in the group ahead of them with Greg Sharp, Spencer Scott and Josh Williams.
Absent among the men chasing the LAGA title is last year’s winner, Spencer Wilson, who now works as a golf professional in Missouri. While most of the golfers certainly have played the public course enough to feel comfortable, Dunn indicated Sunday’s second round on Alvamar’s private course could factor heavily in deciding a champion, because some might be unfamiliar with those 18 holes.
“Our country club is going to be much harder to deal with,” Dunn said.
Lerner, who said the Alvamar private course hadn’t been a part of the LAGA city tournament for at least the past decade, agreed.
“You have to be quite accurate, and the greens are tricky, especially the first time you play them,” he said. “There are four or five that are really tricky, no matter where the pin is.”
Dunn said staying in the fairway is a must for success on the private course, and the second-most important thing is finagling pars on the rolling greens.
“If you have 20-foot birdie putt, but it’s downhill and breaking, you want the ball to stop within two feet,” the pro said. “You’re not trying to make everything.”
Between the men’s, women’s, seniors (50 and older) and super seniors (60 and older) divisions, 65 golfers will play at the LAGA event.
Galen Smith, who won the super senior championship flight last year, will be back to defend his title, as will 2011 senior championship flight winner Van Reichert.
This year, seven women are competing at the city tournament. That is an increase from 2011, when just three participated.