Tag Archives: Kansas City Country Club

Watson Wins the Watson in KC

Heavy rains over the weekend have again wreaked havoc upon the basement computer room at Catch Basin, our Kansas City headquarters. Fortunately, we didn’t repair the baseboards after the last cloudburst, so the monetary damage is slight.

Tom Watson

Watson successfully double-defended on Sunday. (John Garrity)

No such luck for Kansas City Country Club, currently ranked No. 51 on the Top 50. Tom Watson’s home course was declared “unplayable” on Monday morning, forcing tournament officials to cancel the final round of the Watson Challenge.* The same officials then handed Watson a check for $10,000, it being the local custom to compensate winners no matter how bad the weather.** “It’s too bad we didn’t get to play 54 holes,” Watson told reporters before hopping on a plane to Monterey, Calif., for a satellite tournament at the beautiful Pebble Beach Golf Links, No. 7. “– because the more you play, the more the best players come to the top.”

* The Watson Challenge — named, I believe, for former IBM president and chairman Thomas J. Watson — is an annual 54-hole invitational tournament for professional and amateur golfers in the Kansas City area. Tom Watson, the golfer, has won it the past three years, leading locals to grudgingly accept that he may, indeed, be the best golfer in town.

** Watson shot weekend rounds of 65-69 to edge legendary Asian Tour veteran Clay Devers, of Shawnee, Ks., by a stroke.

Following the old adage, “It’s always brightest before the storm,” Sunday afternoon was so beautiful that Watson went straight from the flash interview area to the putting green for a solitary practice session. (See below.) Upon viewing this photo, our principal Heart of America course rater awarded 12 bonus points to Kansas City Country Club for “Infrastructure: Hall of Fame Golfers.”

Tom Watson practicing putting

Tom Watson at Kansas City Country Club. Looking for a game? (John Garrity)

Top 50 on TV: The U.S. Open is being played on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, No. 7. We’ll have a look at the layout on Wednesday and then ask our panel of experts to give their opinions on changes that were made in preparation for the Open. If their opinions conform to our own, we will post them here later in the week.

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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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Oops! Swope In, Brookline Out

No one has found fault, so far, with our recently-updated Top 50. The only quibbles come from the tree-hugging community — effectively dismissed in my last posting — and from an anonymous correspondent who claims he has trouble distinguishing between the late Robert Trent Jones (designer of Valderrama, No. 17, and renovator of Kansas City C.C., No. 50) and his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Poipu Bay, No. 15). Which brings to mind the Joan Rivers acquaintance who didn’t understand the concept of Roman numerals. (“She thought we just fought World War Eleven.”)

Perfect, however, is something we have never claimed to be. Decimal points can be misplaced. Fours can fail to be carried. Checks can — and do — get lost in the mail.* That’s why we constantly re-examine our data, looking for niggling errors, and why we subscribe to a sophisticated “spell-checking program” that makes us look up words that it doesn’t recognize. (See “Valderrama.”) It is Top 50 policy to correct even minor mistakes, there being no better way to preserve confidence in the published ranking.

*Sometimes twice in a row, against all odds.

In that spirit, we submit this clarification of the most recent ranking: No. 45 is Swope Memorial Golf Course, Kansas City, Mo. — not The Country Club of Brookline, Mass., as originally announced.

The elevation of Swope Memorial marks the first time that two A. W. Tillinghast courses from Kansas City have achieved simultaneous rankings. Elegant Kansas City Country Club, the third-oldest country club west of the Mississippi and home course of five-time British Open champion Tom Watson, is better known than its crosstown cousin, but both tracks have pedigrees. KCCC has hosted numerous state, regional and national tournaments, including the inaugural Trans-Mississippi Amateur (1901), won by John Stuart. Hilly Swope Memorial, a municipal course, hosted the 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship and was the PGA’s venue for the 1949 Kansas City Open, won by Jim Ferrier.

The adjustment leaves the highly-regarded Country Club, currently ranked 18th in the U.S. by an anonymous Golf Digest panel, with no ranking at all. To mollify its New England supporters, who relentlessly lobby the Top 50 on behalf of their allegedly underrated courses, we have temporarily moved the Donald Ross-designed 9-hole Tatnuck Country Club course of Worcester, Mass., to No. 68, three rungs above its previous station

We regret, but don’t admit to, the error.


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