Kansans’ Local Knowledge Stymied at Sand Creek Station


Kansas native Chase Hanna wasn't helped by his familiarity with the APL host venue, and hopes to bounce back after a disappointing first-round 78. (USGA/Chris Keane)
By Hunki Yun, USGA
July 14, 2014

NEWTON, Kan. – The cars in the parking lot of Sand Creek Station Golf Course represented 26 states, having transported competitors of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship from as far away as Connecticut, Florida and Washington. Although the players have gathered for a single, common purpose, their stay in Newton is fleeting and their connection to this town is gossamer, like a tumbleweed drifting across the Kansas plains.

However, one player has ties to Newton that are as deep as the roots of the cottonwood, Kansas’ state tree. Although Chase Hanna is from the eastern part of the state in Leawood, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., his ancestors played a key role in the early development of Newton, which was founded in 1871.

In 1887, his great-great-grandparents, John Axtell and Lucena Chase Axtell, both physicians, founded the town’s first hospital, and the Axtell Clinic is still part of the Newton Medical Center. The Axtells’ youngest daughter, Marian, married George Hanna, and many of their descendants still live in Newton. Chase’s father, William, grew up there before settling in the Kansas City area after law school.

Chase had played Sand Creek Station many times, both in competition – the course has hosted the Kansas Stroke Play Championship since 2011 – and during casual rounds while visiting his grandparents, who moved to Colorado last year. But the University of Kansas sophomore had never played it under the conditions he faced during the first round of stroke-play qualifying, in which he shot 78.

“I never played it with the north wind,” said Hanna, 19, who won both the Kansas Amateur and Junior Amateur in 2013. “It really picked up on the back nine. It made the course feel different.”

The rarely encountered wind direction negated much of the potential advantage that Hanna and the other players familiar with the course might have enjoyed.

“It was really hard this afternoon, because every shot was into a crosswind,” said Michael Gellerman, who shot 74 after commuting from his home in Sterling, an hour away. “For any golfer, that’s not easy.”

Calvin Pearson’s home is considerably more than an hour away, but he has played Sand Creek Station more often than any other player in the field. The native of Durban, South Africa, just completed four seasons at Wichita State University, located 30 minutes south of Newton.

After the initial period of adjustment brought on by moving from a metropolis of 3.5 million on the Indian Ocean to a landlocked city with one-10th the population, Pearson considers himself as entrenched in the Plains as any native Kansan.

“I wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything,” said Pearson, who will graduate in December. “The people are wonderful and it was unbelievable watching the basketball team go to the Final Four [in 2013.]”

But as it did for Hanna, Gellerman and the field’s third Kansan, Michael Greene, the first round’s unexpected wind caused Pearson to feel displaced on a course on which he normally feels so comfortable. Pearson, who has played Sand Creek Station year-round, said that the northerly breeze is rare, even in the winter.

“The last time I played in this wind,” he said, “it was probably my freshman year.”

The Kansans – both native and transplanted – are looking to improve on their first rounds while playing in front of friends and family in their home state.

The residents of a house along the right side of the par-3 13th hole are friends of Hanna’s father, William. As Hanna was walking up to the green, they assembled on the deck, holding up a neon-green sign: “Go Chase!”

“It’s an awesome opportunity to play in a national championship in your home state,” said Hanna. “I didn’t play very well today, so it was very disappointing. But I’ll turn it around tomorrow morning.”

Hunki Yun is the director of strategic projects for the USGA. Email him at hyun@usga.org.

 

Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image