There’s dozens of national championships to decide in college sports — but only one which will be decided in Newton.
The National Junior College Athletic Association will use Sand Creek Station to decide their golf championship — and the golf course management couldn’t be happier about that decision.
“This puts our community on a whole new level in the sports industry,” said Chris Tuohey, general manager of Sand Creek Station. “We have some the nation’s top ranked college teams coming to compete for a national title.”
The championship season, as it were, will start today when the course hosts 11 teams and approximately 60 golfers for a district championship. Winners of that tournament will be part of the championships starting May 15.
Tuohey said hosting these tournaments, and the National Public Links coming in 2014, will be big not only for the golf course — but for the community of Newton.
“Events like this will bring commuters from all corners of the country,” Tuohey said. “They will stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and participate in our community. We want to be a booster of our city’s economic health.”
Tuohey sees events like the national championship as a time for Newton to roll out the welcome mat and be in the national spotlight.
“The course understands the importance of these events and what they can mean for the community,” Tuohey said. “We need to put on our game face, be as friendly as we can and welcome people. We will be exposed to the country. That’s for everyone, and everybody, in our community.”
It’s also a chance for fans of golf, or sports fans in general, to see national-level competition. There is no admission for watching Monday and Tuesday’s district tournament, nor will there be admission for the NJCAA Championships in May.
“We want spectators to come out and watch,” Tuohey said. “The setting is really ideal. There are a lot of high hills that you can get some great aerial views of players hitting shots. I think the players, coaches and player families would love to see spectators come out and watch this.”
The district tournament will start at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning with a shotgun start. Players will play 36 holes Monday, with 18 more on Tuesday.
For those who have never watched a golf tournament live before, it is suggested they stop at the club house before heading out on the course to watch play.
For the national championship, there are about 125 players expected from across the nation. So far teams from South Carolina, Florida and Texas have already committed to playing during the four-day tournament in May.
Included in the field will be Faulker State — a program which might be familiar to golf enthusiasts. Current Master’s Champion Bubba Watson played college golf for the Sun Chiefs.
“We could see some of these players eventually playing on the PGA tour some day,” Tuohey said.
That’s the future —for now they will compete for a national championship — and they will do it in Newton.
“We are hosting a national championship here, and I don’t know the last time Kansas hosted a national championship in golf,” Tuohey said.