WinterStone Majors Series Tournaments are a hit… and continue with the U.S. Open in June

WinterStone Golf Course

The next time you find yourself forming a team for a scramble golf tournament, take a hint from Kane Chapman, head golf professional at WinterStone Golf Course. It’s a tip that applies well in life…Find yourself a good woman.

“Anyone who can hit from the forward tees and hit the ball a long way will be a big asset,” Chapman said. “The difference between the red tees, where most of our players will tee off, and the blue tees, where the ladies and seniors tee off, is more than 1,200 yards over the entire 18 holes. And most of that is on the longer holes. You’re probably looking at 75 to 100 yards difference per hole on the par-4s and par-5s. If you’ve got someone who hits it 200 yards from the blue tees, that’s the same as hitting it 275 or 280 from the red tees.”

That strategy will come in handy if you’re playing in the Spring Swing May 13. This three-person scramble is part of a series of tournaments mostly focused around the Major tournaments. There is no Major in May, so this tournament is a stand-alone.

But it’s still a fun way to spice up your golf game on a course that recently was named Missouri’s Best Golf Course for the second straight year by Tee Times Golf Guide.

“That is the same weekend as the Player’s Championship, but we won’t be pairing with pros,” Chapman said. “We will have an 8 a.m. shot-gun start. With the scramble format, everybody hits from the best position with each shot.”

Chapman has created a unique program to feature his award-winning course. The WinterStone Majors Series uses a different format for each tournament, but three of the four Majors links players at the course in Independence with players in the Major tournament on the PGA Tour.

For example, when Sergio Garcia won the Masters in mid-April, the two teams that selected Garcia before the start of Sunday’s round got a huge boost in the WinterStone Masters. It was even bigger, because a large number of the 50 participating teams picked the young Americans who were playing in the penultimate pairing, Jordan Spieth and Ricky Fowler.

“That cost them dearly in our tournament,” Chapman said. “Sergio, and Justin Rose who also played a great round on Sunday, would have been a big help. I was with a lot of other people. I thought Jordan Spieth was going to win, because of the way he had played that week (after the quadruple bogey on Thursday). He just looked like he was in control of everything. It did not turn out that way at all.

“I was a bit surprised that Sergio hadn’t won one before this year’s Masters. He’s had some fantastic finishes. He burst onto the scene a number of years ago, and everyone thought he was the next big star. His ball-striking is as good as anybody’s who is playing the game today. It’s always been about whether he could make putts. It always seemed like something would happen when he was near the lead on Sunday.”

It looked like he might give it away again in this year’s Masters. He had a chance to win it on 18, but missed a very makeable putt. But instead of choking in the playoff, he won on the first playoff hole.

“Part of that was Rose hitting it into the trees, but Garcia did what he needed to do,” Chapman said. “At that point, it’s like match-play. All you have to do is beat the other guy.”

Just like there is with picking your teammates in the scramble format, there’s a strategy to picking the pros. Rarely does the leader after Saturday’s round have the best round on Sunday. Maybe the professional is more in protection mode, but Chapman said there are a few ways to pick the guy who is going to have the best round on Sunday.

“It’s all based on one day, one round,” he said. “For me, the best guys to pick are proven players. It may be different for the U.S. Open, where you’re looking for guys who can keep it in the fairway. If you can make pars in the U.S. Open you’ve got a shot.

“Sometimes I’ll pick a guy who didn’t play very well on Thursday or Friday but still made the cut. He’s somewhere down the leader board. It’s kind of a high-risk, high-reward thing. That person knows if he’s going to have any chance to win, he’s going to have to make his move fast. He’s got to be aggressive. He might flame out, but he also might catch fire and have a really good round.”

After the Spring Swing, the next tournament in the series is the WinterStone U.S. Open. This year’s tournament is June 15-18 at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin. Two-person teams at WinterStone will pair their score with one of the professionals from the 117th version of the U.S. Open.

As creative as the WinterStone Majors Series is, it might take some attention from a beautiful golf course, one worth playing whether or not there’s anything special going on. The 6,234-yard course (from the red tees) is the only course in America built over a mine.

And the course is the star. The front nine is longer, with 3,183 yards of up-and-down challenge. There is plenty of fairway in which to drive, and golfers best be served to find it. The rough is deep and thick, especially with the rainy Spring experienced in Kansas City. If you find yourself in the rough, you should consider at least one more club, maybe two.

The back nine is shorter, but more scenic. It starts on 10, where you must hit your drive more than 200 yards in the air to clear the expansive lake. No. 12 is only 90 yards, but it’s the toughest handicapped hole on the course. The undulating green is hard to read. To make it worse, there are few holes on the course where the unexpected break toward the Missouri river is felt more.

So grab your clubs—and that good woman—and head to WinterStone Golf Course. It will be worth your time.

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Article by David Smale

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