Manakin-Sabot, Va. -- Twenty-four dollars. That’s what it cost 14-year-old Kent Frandsen to buy a one-year membership at Ulen Country Club in Lebanon, Ind., in 1965.
And that’s what it still costs for a high-school student in Boone County to join Ulen, the course where Frandsen caddied as a teenager and would later serve as president.
It started a life in golf for Frandsen that has seen him captain the Indiana University golf team, win multiple Indiana State Amateur titles, play in over a dozen USGA championships and receive the USGA’s Ike Grainger Award for 25 years of volunteer service.
And yet for all his accomplishments, it is Frandsen’s modesty and dry sense of humor that is most apparent in a conversation with him.
“Writing a feature on me?” the Lebanon, Ind., native deadpanned. “You must really be hurting for material.”
In addition to his day job as a civil litigation lawyer for Parr, Richey, Obremsky, Frandsen & Patterson, Frandsen is the current president at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.
The club has held six USGA championships, the 1991 PGA Championship (won by John Daly) and will host next year’s BMW Championship – the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“Crooked Stick is a unique place,” said the 60-year-old Frandsen. “It is a club that loves to host championship golfers – from professionals to juniors to ladies. I think the BMW will be a tremendous tournament for the Western Golf Association and PGA Tour and gives us a great chance to get the PGA Championship again in the future.”
The course itself can be stretched to more than 7,600 yards from the back tees, but Frandsen and course designer Pete Dye think that even that might not be long enough for today’s professionals.
“These guys are hitting it so far,” said Frandsen, “I don’t think you can make a course long enough for these guys. We had the (U.S.) Senior Open there two years ago and they had the fairways so firm that Fred Funk averaged over 300 yards off the tee. Fred Funk!”
While Frandsen and Dye have a little more than one year to get the course ready for the BMW, the pair has been close friends for over 40 years. Dye and his wife, Alice, live on the 18th hole at Crooked Stick and spend much of their time walking the golf course and thinking about ways to improve it.
“Pete is an icon and the father of our club and we all respect him greatly,” said Frandsen. “He’s an artist and his work is never finished, so we’re constantly working together trying to balance improving the course with the cost and hassle of it to the membership.”
Frandsen has been a member at Crooked Stick since 1978 and has been present for all of its USGA championships, starting with the 1982 U.S. Junior Amateur, won by Rich Marik. He also served on the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Committee from its inaugural year in 1981 until 2007, a service which earned him the Ike Grainger Award.
In addition to being a golf administrator, Frandsen is also an accomplished player. He served as captain of the Indiana University golf team that finished 12th in the NCAA Championships in 1972, and he won the Indiana State Amateur three times, including a 16-stroke victory in 1974.
But despite all that, it has been Frandsen’s experience at USGA championships that has been most rewarding to him over the years.
“The most fun I’ve had is either playing in a USGA championship or going to USGA championships as an official or volunteer,” said Frandsen. “It’s fun to come and see some of my old friends. I saw a guy on the practice range today that I hadn’t seen in 40 years. He played for Michigan in 1970 when I played for Indiana. Same thing with Paul Simson, who was at (the University of) New Mexico. These championships have given me a chance to stay involved.”
Frandsen won his opening-round match, 1 up, against Jay Sessa, 55, of Garden City, N.Y. He sunk an 80-foot birdie putt on the par-4 second and holed a 30-yard pitch on the par-3 seventh to advance to the second round, where he will face good friend and fellow Pine Valley member Chip Lutz at 8:47 a.m.
Frandsen acknowledged he’ll need his best game to beat Lutz, who has already won the Canadian Men's Senior Championship and the British Seniors Open Amateur Championship this summer.
But he’s happy just to have the opportunity to compete for a national championship – something a 14-year-old at Ulen C.C. could only dream about half a century ago.
And he won’t even need $24 to do it.
Michael Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.