With the current entry at around 140 and more expected in the final days of registration, The Railers: The Kansas Golf Association Men’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship slated to begin Friday at Sand Creek Station, is poised for another successful run.
The tournament is in its seventh season. It is one of the few KGA tournaments with a permanent home.
“We’re very excited about the return of the Railer,” Sand Creek Station general manager Chris Tuohey said. “We’re pleased with how the tournament has developed into one of the premier events in the state. It has a very strong field. Oklahoma won the (NCAA) championship in4 golf this year and Max McGreevy was a senior on that team. He won the Railer in 2013.”
The tournament is 54 holes beginning Friday and ending June 25. There are two divisions of play — Open and Seniors (age 50 and older).
The course will play 6,950 yards for the open division and 6,500 yards for the senior division.
The Open division is notable for the number of top high school, junior college and college players it draws.
Tim McKinnis of Lyons is the defending Open Division champion. Tracy Chamberlin of Wichita is the two-time defending Senior Division champion.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve been getting players from Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado,” Tuohey said. “It is not only one of the premier events in Kansas, but in the south-central part of the country.”
The tournament is one 15 championships hosted by the Kansas Golf Association. It is also one of the youngest KGA championships.
The Railer and the Konza Prairie Amateur Championship, held at Colbert Hills in Manhattan, are the only two with permanent homes.
“We started working with the Kansas Golf Association to find something that would work with Sand Creek Station,” Tuohey said. “I think this tournament suits the course very well.”
The KGA has sponsored the State Amateur Tournament for 107 years, which has been held at various sites throughout the state, including Sand Creek Station in 2012. It is two days of stroke play, followed by two days of match play.
With players coming from all over the state and the region, Tuohey believes the tournament is important to the local economy, as it regularly fills hotel rooms and restaurants in the area.
“We feel like this tournament puts Newton on the map in sports,” he said.
The tournament is one of about 95 to 102 the course holds each year, which includes corporate outings. Tuohey said about 40 to 50 percent of the course’s revenue is derived from tournaments and corporate outings.
Other high-profile tournaments in the past have included the final USGA Public Links Championships in 2014, the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Men’s Championships twice and The Summit League twice.
Upcoming tournaments include the return of the Summit League for a third year, the NAIA Mid-South Men’s Championships in the fall (hosted by Oklahoma City University) and the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Championships in the spring.
Tuohey said he has made a proposal to extend the Summit League’s stay in Newton, as well as bids for the NJCAA championships and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletcs championships.