This past weekend the ribbon was cut unveiling the Ken Lanning Golf Center. The dream of this “one of a kind accessible golf course” belongs to Scott Hovis. I want to let you hear from Scott about how this project transformed from a dream to reality.
Golf is often referred to as a lifetime sport and has been a huge part of my life. I started playing at the age of three. The game has provided me numerous opportunities: it helped pay for my education. It was my job for several years as a playing professional. And, for the last 10 years, it has been my career as the Executive Director of the Missouri Golf Association (MGA). I owe a lot to this game that has given me so much, and I want to do more to give back by providing opportunities for others to enjoy this great game as well.
Six years ago my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which causes shaking, difficulty walking, and can progress to thinking and behavioral problems as well. I have watched my father go from playing golf every day, to not being able to play a normal course at all due to the hills and slope. “My dad’s health problems, and seeing how it has affected him has made me keenly aware of other individuals with disabilities.”
I began thinking of ways to help people with disabilities play golf and decided to build a course that would be accessible to anyone with a disability. And, one that would also serve as a tool to teach children about golf.
I approached Danny Baumgartner, owner of Turkey Creek Golf Center in North Jefferson City to inquire about moving the MGA office to his location. We decided to start small by hosting kid’s events and clinics, with the main goal of creating a one-of-a-kind course in the17-acre field adjacent to their property.
After finalizing the move of our offices, I quickly turned my attention to working on this project and reached out to Major General Stephen Danner of the Missouri National Guard. After talking, we quickly realized how important this project could be for veterans, wounded military and their families by giving them a recreational outlet unlike any other. And since the Missouri Junior Golf Foundation is a 501(c)(3), Maj. Gen. Danner felt this could qualify for an Innovative Readiness Project (IRT).
After two years of working through the IRT application process (with some much appreciated help from Maj. Gen. Danner’s office), we were approved in the spring of 2015. I was given two-months’ notice before the initial deployment would arrive and begin construction, yet I hadn’t raised a single dollar toward the million-dollar goal we needed for the project.
After discussing this with Jon Sundvold, President of our Missouri Junior Golf Foundation, we decided to roll with it and started fundraising as we went. One of my initial steps was reaching out to the Department of Economic Development to inquire about the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). We were granted $250,000 in tax credits for this project. Next, we signed a lease with Turkey Creek Golf Center for 17 acres of land at $1 per year, for the next 99 years.
On June 8th, the Missouri National Guard arrived at Turkey Creek and with the help of golf architect Todd Clark of CE Golf Design [http://www.cegolfdesign.com/], and the golf construction company of Wadsworth Golf, we broke ground. The original plan was to have the guard do enough of the initial construction to save about $150,000. However, mother nature had other plans, and we received record amounts of rainfall that June. Fast forward to October 15th, Wadsworth Golf Company finished the first ever, fully handicap accessible, 9-hole golf course in the United States!
It was a special privilege for me to attend the ribbon cutting because Mr. Lanning, known as “Mr. Junior Golf” in Missouri, was my mentor and teacher starting at age 13 and well into my professional career. He shared his golf knowledge and his wisdom with me and spoke blessings into my life. I especially remember him saying that I would become a nice player but I would end up being a good golf instructor. Interesting how I wake up every day passionate about passing on what Mr. Lanning taught me so many years ago.
I know Scott’s dream which has become a reality will serve a community of golfers, who couldn’t otherwise play a regular course, for many years to come. My hope is that this will inspire other communities to provide this same access to their golf community which may have some special needs. To learn more about the Ken Lanning Golf Center, please visit www://golfforeall.org.
Stan was featured on the local NBC affiliate discussing this incredible opportunity. Please watch the clip here.
The grip is the connection between us and our club.
I was able to play 18 holes at CC of Missouri with Dan Lanning, Mr. Lanning’s son, and his nephew Joe on Saturday following the festivities. We told a lot of stories about Mr. Lanning. One that we all remembered was how emphatic he was about having a perfect grip. He would often point out someone whose grip he disapproved of (they obviously had not asked him for help), and in order to motivate us he would suggest their grip will cause one bad shot or bad putt and that would give us the advantage in the end.
Mr. Lanning gave me the reverse overlap putting grip I use, and teach, back in 1982. Here is an older YouTube video from a few years ago in which I explained the grip in more detail.
Remember scoring lower really is more fun!!