"You might be watching the next Tiger Woods or Johnny Miller or Jordan Spieth; that's pretty cool when you can stand right next to them."
ANDOVER — Flint Hills National Golf Club, in Andover, Kan., has been selected by the United States Golf Association as the host site for the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. The dates for the championship, which will be the third USGA championship hosted by Flint Hills National, are July 17-22.
“The USGA is pleased to return to Flint Hills National Golf Club and the Central Plains region,” said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. “Flint Hills National has provided a demanding and competitive test for the best female and senior amateurs and will certainly identify the top junior amateur player in 2017.”
Flint Hills National, which opened in 1997, is located 15 miles east of Wichita on a 240-acre property. The Tom Fazio-designed course features zoysiagrass tees and fairways and bentgrass putting surfaces. More than 5,500 trees, some 50 feet tall, surround the layout and water hazards come into play on eight holes.
“Flint Hills National Golf Club is honored to be selected as the host site for the 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur,” said Jeff M. Johnson, club president. “We look forward to partnering with the USGA and delivering a world-class venue that showcases amateur golf and the surrounding Andover and Wichita communities.”
Flint Hills National hosted the 2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur, won by Meredith Duncan with a short birdie putt on the 37th hole to outlast Nicole Perrot of Chile. Many veteran observers have called the match one of the greatest finals in USGA championship history. Each player had 10 birdies, with match-play concessions, in a back-and-forth competition.
In 2007, Flint Hills National hosted the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. Stan Lee, who was five days past his 55th birthday, became the youngest winner in the championship’s history by posting a 4-and-3 victory over Sam Farlow in the final.
The 2017 U.S. Junior Amateur will be the 22nd USGA championship contested in Kansas. The Sunflower State hosted its first U.S. Junior Amateur in 1960 at Milburn Golf & Country Club in Overland Park, with Bill Tindall defeating Robert Hammer, 2 and 1, in the championship match.
"For us we think it's a very big deal," said Johnson. "The USGA is a wonderful partner and they champion amateur golf. If you look at a list of the clubs they've gone to over the years it's a pretty high honor. Fox Sports is going to be broadcasting so there'll be some exposure and I think it's good publicity for the Wichita and Andover and surrounding areas."
The first U.S. Junior Amateur was contested in 1948. The championship is open to male amateurs who have not reached their 18th birthday by the conclusion of the championship and who have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 6.4. Tiger Woods (three times), Jordan Spieth (twice), Hunter Mahan and Johnny Miller are among U.S. Junior Amateur champions.
Admission is free throughout the event and spectators have the opportunity to following their favorite players, including walking the fairways behind them. Johnson encourages fans to come out and enjoy this championship and the venue.
"First of all we're going to shower them (the fans) with great hospitality and an opportunity to see one of the most beautiful golf venues in the country," Johnson explained. "More excitingly you don't know if you're going to stand there and watch the next superstar on the PGA tour or certainly the next great college kid. You might be watching the next Tiger Woods or Johnny Miller or Jordan Spieth; that's pretty cool when you can stand right next to them."
Matt Cole, Sports Editor, contributed to this article. Contact Matt Cole by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel.