Tag Archives: Hallbrook

KC Pro Fights for Hillcrest Ranking

“Hey, John,” writes Kansas City club pro John Bozarth. “When we get the ninth green finished here at Hillcrest, will we move up in the Top 50 list?”

Hillcrest's 9th green

Richard III wasn’t found under the tailings of Hillcrest’s old 9th green — just a lot of ribbons and rice. (John Garrity)

Bozarth is referring to the original Donald Ross green at 45th-ranked Hillcrest Golf Club, a three-time PGA Tour venue. Several years ago, a club executive decided that Ross’s green would produce more revenue as a wedding bower, situated as it was close to the clubhouse and parking for tin-can-festooned getaway cars. Dimly aware that golfers would still need a place to hole out before moving on to No. 10, the executive installed a new ninth green of dubious merit — a small, sticky putting patch fronted by a bunker and a stone wall.

Ross promptly shifted in his grave.

Since 17-½ holes falls just shy of the accepted standard for championship play, Hillcrest no longer evokes comparisons to Ross’s more-famous parkland courses, such as Chicago’s Beverly CC, Atlanta’s East Lake GC, and Rochester’s 51st-ranked Oak Hill CC, site of this summer’s PGA Championship. But Bozarth assumes, with logic on his side, that the restoration of Hillcrest’s once-great ninth hole will put his track back in the national picture.

“I would at the very least like to go ahead of the other course listed from the Kansas City area,” Bozarth writes.* “What is the criteria for choosing the ranking? Is there a way to influence that decision, like free fountain drinks, or maybe a season’s supply of tees? Or I could let you use my covered cart when it is cold. Well, I think you can see where I’m going with this.”

*The “other course” would be Tom Fazio’s 42nd-ranked Hallbrook Country Club, one of the midwest’s most challenging layouts and home course of Tour Tempo pioneer John Novosel, co-author of Tour Tempo 2: The Short Game and Beyond. 

Bozarth is a friend, so I know that his wink-wink, nudge-nudge is merely his way of acknowledging the incorruptibility of the Top 50 ranking. (It’s all science here at Catch Basin. A season’s supply of tees doesn’t even move the needle.) But he’s not crazy for supposing that Hillcrest will move up when the old ninth green is put back in play.

That new fleet of golf carts won’t hurt, either.

Top 50 on TV: Ninth-ranked Pebble Beach Golf Links swept defending champ Phil Mickelson off his feet today at the AT&T National Pro-Am. (Those rocks are slippery.) Meanwhile, the postman just delivered a book by Oliver Horovitz called An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the [16th-ranked] Old Course. I enjoyed An American Caddie in page proofs some time back, but it’s possible that Gotham Books has trimmed it to appeal to the bridal-shower crowd. I’ll read it again and let you know.

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Kansas Tops Northern Iowa in Poll that Matters

A wave of sadness has swept over our neighborhood upon hearing that the University of Kansas has lost to the University of Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA basketball championship.* We live roughly a block-and-a-half east of the state celebrated in What’s the Matter with Kansas?, so we know that our border partner is a full-out Technicolor state, not the drab, tornado-prone territory portrayed in The Wizard of Oz. Or it least it was until yesterday evening, when the No. 1 Jayhawks were swept off the board by UNI’s Fighting Warriors. Or Blue Devils. (We’ll Google that and get back to you.)

*The sadness may not be universal. The neighbor across the street  flies a University of Missouri flag over his portico.

Anyway, to lift the spirits of our depressed neighbors, I have issued a Top 50 press release pointing out that Jayhawk fans retain bragging rights in the area of great golf courses.

“Kansas is home to no fewer than three Top Fifty courses [I’m quoting from the release], which is more than any other state and a lot more than Northern Iowa, which has no courses in the Top Fifty. (Or the Top 500, for that matter.) Topping the list of Kansas gems is 6th-ranked Prairie Dunes Country Club of Hutchinson, the site of numerous national championships …” etc., etc. The release goes on to mention Mission Hills’s Kansas City Country Club (home of 5-time British Open champion Tom Watson) and Leawood’s Hallbrook Country Club (home of Tour Tempo tycoon, John Novosel), Nos. 50 and 42 respectively.

I could have added that Milburn Country Club of Overland Park, Ks., was in the Top Fifty as recently as February, but I don’t want Iowans to think I’m rubbing it in. I’ll just point out that a list of other Kansas courses that are better than anything northern Iowa has to offer would include Flint Hills National, Colbert Hills, Prairie Highlands, Mission Hills, Auburn Hills, Dub’s Dread, Buffalo Dunes, and Sand Creek Station (recently rated No. 2 public-access course in the state by Golfweek).

Feel better Kansans? I hope so.

Oops, have to go. The Mizzou-West Virginia game tips off in a few minutes.

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