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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Taking home the trophy

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  • It's bound to be a quieter week for the staff at Sand Creek Station golf course. Players, USGA officials, volunteers and spectators are heading home after the wrap-up Saturday of the last-ever U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Byron Meth of San Diego, California, walked away with the final trophy, bringing an end to the competition after nine decades.
    Although it's a bittersweet moment for Sand Creek Station general manager Chris Tuohey and his staff — who have spent years preparing for the tournament — it's also a time to reflect back on the journey to the APL and to celebrate its success.
    "They've said it's just been an A+ event," Tuohey said of the championship officials. "... You have to deliver a best-in-class experience. I think it's going to pay fantastic dividends for the community."
    The championship ran Monday through Saturday at the golf course. Even Mother Nature seemed to be cooperating with the tournament — players enjoyed temperatures in the 70s throughout much of the week.
    "You really could not have asked for a better week of weather," Tuohey said.
    Community members will take away different memories of the event, which brought in players and officials from across the country and the world.
    Melody Spurney, the new coordinator for the city's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said she has enjoyed watching the community host the tournament and thought Newton made a good impression on its out-of-town visitors.
    "The USGA people have said very nice things about the people of Newton, very welcoming," she said. "... It's been neat to see that golf course really on center stage. It's definitely an asset for visitors and residents."
    Other members of the community lent a hand by volunteering at the championship.
    Bethel College women's basketball coach Mark Fox spent the week volunteering as a forecaddie and a walking scorer at the course.
    "It's been great — it beats being in the office," he said with a laugh.
    Spectators — many of whom came to watch family members play in the tournament — also said they will leave with good memories of the event.
    Julie and Jerry Gellerman of Sterling spent the week at Sand Creek Station watching their son, Michael Gellerman, compete in the championship. Gellerman made it to the semifinals of the competition.
    "This is fun, we've been looking forward to this," Julie said. "... They've done a wonderful job getting the course ready to go and getting volunteers ready. We really appreciate all the hard work that's gone in."

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