The city has taken control of the city championship golf tournament and the man in charge doesn’t plan on conducting business as usual.
Darin “Lumpy” Pearson has big plans for expanding not only the main amateur golf event in Lawrence, but adding other tournaments as well.
David Lerner, former city tourney director, approached Pearson and others about taking over and received no resistance.
In his third year at Eagle Bend, Pearson not only has made the course more difficult, he has beautified it as well. And he has several other ideas for how to improve the course to the point it can attract prestigious state events. A greens-keeper at Alvamar for 13 years, Pearson, golf operations supervisor at Eagle Bend, is an accomplished turf-management expert.
Pearson knows he will need help planning amateur golf tournaments and he already has begun discussions with professionals Greg Dannevik (Eagle Bend), Eric Magunuson (Alvamar) and Jon Zylstra (Lawrence Country Club).
Lerner suggested moving the date of the tournament back, perhaps into September, so as not to lose golfers to summer vacations.
Pearson said he likes the idea of looking into having the tournament stretch over two weekends, with one round played at each of the four golf courses, a format that would shrink the field with a cut after the first weekend. Love that idea. If that happens, Pearson said, a couple of late-August weekends might work best so as to stay out of the way of Kansas University’s football schedule.
Other means of growing the field that the city ought to consider include:
Give discounts to golfers who have unlimited-play rights on the course that the tourney takes place that day (Alvamar CC and LCC members, plus those who pay an annual fee to play at Eagle Bend and Alvamar public).
Incentivize keeping a legitimate handicap on ghin.com by giving a $35 discount to those who do, which surpasses the cost of signing up on ghin.com.
Divide the flights based on handicap before the tournament and keep the same number of golfers in each flight.
Work with Kansas University sports management department to see if interns can work on the tournament for class credit.
Pearson’s pet peeve involves the lack of another tournament that should be treated as a local major.
“We have no junior golf championship in Lawrence,” Pearson said “Why don’t we have a junior golf championship in Lawrence? Maybe there would only be 12 people playing in it at first, but we still would have our junior city champion and from there we could move forward.”
Weekdays, Eagle Bend charges junior golfers under the age of 16 just $8 to play all day and $12 on weekends. Both country clubs offer extremely affordable group lessons from accomplished instructors. But with video games and intense summer scheduling in other sports, it can be difficult to generate numbers. That’s OK. Nobody said anything in golf is supposed to be easy.
The popular Pearson is the perfect person to inspire cooperation from all the courses in town working toward a common goal: Growing golf in Lawrence by bringing more excitement to existing events and adding tournaments, particularly at the junior level.