By Max Goodwin
Professional golf returns to south Kansas City and Blue Hills Country Club, May 20th through the 23rd with the AdventHealth Championship. It’s a new sponsorship title for the event that was previously known as the KC Golf Classic. The tournament is part of the Korn Ferry Tour, consisting of professional golfers one step from the PGA Tour.
AdventHealth and the PGA announced a six-year contract in February, which will keep the event under that title and at the current location for the next six years.
“This town definitely deserves to have professional golf, it’s a great market from that perspective,” Executive Director of the AdventHealth Championship Drew Van Meeteren said. “By them coming on board, along with the PGA Tour, it assures that professional golf will be here at least six years.”
This will be the second time the tournament is played at Blue Hills after moving from Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate in 2019. Blue Hills provides a championship-caliber course with facilities that can operationally support a PGA event, and the membership base at Blue Hills supports the tournament being played at the club and is excited to host it there Van Meeteren said.
Recent improvements have been made to the Blue Hills course already ranked as one of the top courses in the Midwest. There are new practice facilities, an outdoor entertainment area, and changes made to the fairway and tee of the first hole.
“It turned out fantastic,” Van Meeteren said. “I can’t wait for the players to get here and hear their feedback.”
At the end of the season, the top 25 golfers on the Korn Ferry leaderboard will gain a PGA Tour card next season. It’s the second tier of professional golf, but these golfers have the potential to compete at the highest level of the sport and some of them are likely to one day.
Korn Ferry Tour member Will Zalatoris has been a major story this year as he’s risen up the Official World Golf Rankings into the top 30 despite still not technically having a PGA Tour card.
Zalatoris finished runner-up at The Masters and is currently ranked second on the Korn Ferry Tour leaderboard, but don’t expect to see him at the AdventHealth Championship because he’s been given special temporary PGA Tour status. He can compete in PGA events but is not eligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
“If you look at the current standings,” Van Meeteren said, “anybody in that top 25 can go on the PGA Tour and win. That’s the level of talent that’s out here.”
A local golfer, Alex Springer was awarded a spot in the AdventHealth Championship as the winner of the Watson Challenge in 2019. Springer played golf at Olathe East High School and the University of Central Missouri. The Watson Challenge was established in 2007 by legendary Kansas City golfer Tom Watson, as a 48-player field composed of the area’s top professionals and amateurs.
The last KC Golf Classic at Blue Hills in 2019 was won by Michael Gellerman, an alum of the University of Oklahoma, who grew up in Sterling, Kansas. It was a breakthrough tournament for Gellerman in his fifth year as a professional golfer and now he’s on the PGA Tour.
There’s reason to forecast big crowds at Blue Hills, bringing people looking for entertainment to the south KC area. Van Meeteren says he has seen a lot of interest from the sponsorship base of the tournament.
“I think a lot of people are anxious to get back outside and do something,” Van Meeteren said. “I expect really solid crowds given that we’re coming out of the covid environment.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased at www.adventhealthchampionship.com