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March 07th, 2021

2019 swks pro am 1A participant in the 2019 SWKS Pro-Am lines up a shot. Plans are currently under way for the 2021 event, set for the beginning of June. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Warmer weather will be coming through the area before everyone knows it, and for many people, that will mean breaking out the golf clubs set. 

Starting June 7, the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am is coming back to Garden City to support the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Catherine Hospital and bring quality, professional golf to the Southwest Kansas. The Pro-Am portion of the event will take place June 7 and 8, followed by four days of professional play.

“The hospital has some needs to be taken care of, and we weren't able to do our usual fundraisers last year due to COVID-19, and we feel like the numbers are at a point now where we're starting to feel more comfortable starting to have events again,” coordinator Paige Kraus said. “With this also being such a longstanding event in the community – this is its 41st year – and with it being an outdoor event, we felt it would be safe to go ahead and have this event because we can make it work logistically.  The need for funding our NICU is greater than ever and that unit has recently requested a Neoview video intubation system which enables video laryngoscopy for tracheal intubation on the most fragile patients.”

The tournament will consist of 4-person amateur teams playing with a professional, according to Kraus. Amateur teams play a scramble format and may use the professional’s tee shot and score on each hole, and are invited to form their own teams that adhere to the following handicap limitations: one player (0-5 handicap), two players (6-25 handicap), and one player (handicap 26+). Teams with higher handicaps will be permitted.  Each team will alternate play between Southwind and Buffalo Dunes for this two-day event, and professionals are assigned to amateur teams at each course.  Daily prizes will be awarded to the top five teams including ties at each course. 

“We're excited because we're partnering with the All-Pro tour, and they're bringing pro golfers for the tournament, so we expect the quality of golf to be better than ever,” Kraus said. “Then as far as community turnout, we know it might not look the same as in years past as far as the big dinner and the live band and the things we usually have with this event, but we're going to have some good online options, like an online auction people can participate in if they're not quite comfortable actually going to the event in person. Then as far as the COVID-19 stuff, we're going to follow the CDC guidelines and what our county health officials recommend and listen to what they have to say. We'll be following what the CDC and the Finney County health officials recommend as far as social distancing and extra hand sanitizer, and we'll also be requiring masks to be worn by everyone. And if we have to have some extra protocols in place depending on what our numbers are, we'll implement those too, but that depends on what the numbers are like around that time.”

Kraus added the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am falls in the middle of some of the tour’s other stops. 

“I'm really excited to partner with the All-Pro tour, they have the capability to bring several pro golfers from all throughout the U.S., and they've positioned our date right before they stop in Wichita and Oklahoma, so we're in the middle of those particular stops,” Kraus said. “I think we're going to see some amazing golf, and I'm excited for our sponsors to have the chance to play golf with some really great pro golfers. I'm also excited for the community and the hospital to focus on the positives of healthcare and getting care to our patients. Everyone's also looking forward to that familiarity of what we've done in the past and have the chance to get outside and enjoy some good Kansas June weather.”

Gary DeSerrano, president of All Pro Tour, added the members of the tour are also excited to stop in Southwest Kansas, 

“We are truly excited to renew our partnership with the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am and to build upon the 41 years of history the event has. Our APT pros are eager to get back out on the golf course to compete,” DeSerrano said in a separate release. “As we saw the second half of 2020, we expect a full field of 132 professionals at the 2021 SWKS Pro-Am. While precautions remain in place at all of our All Pro Tour events this year, we are confident we will hold fun yet safe events for the pros, volunteers, and sponsors. We look forward to our visit to Garden City this June."

Kraus added the event is also seeking more sponsors. 

“In sponsoring the SWKS Pro-Am, you're helping ensure a good quality of healthcare right here in this area. We all benefit from having a strong hometown hospital and I look at us being rather on an island here since we're a few hours away from some of the other larger hospitals,” Kraus said. “It's important for us to have the best equipment and training and everything else that's necessary so we can take care of all the patients who come through our facility. If there is a business that's interested in sponsoring, they would just need to visit, which will outline the different sponsorship levels and what the general itinerary will be, or they can get ahold of me at (620) 272-2376 if they have any extra questions. There's a really cool connection with how this all got started, which was to help strengthen our NICU at St. Catherine's, and it used to be a rotating tournament, and it ultimately found a permanent home here since we have some great golf courses here. It's not just a Dodge City event, it's an event for all of Southwest Kansas, and I think that's really great.”

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