Roy Turner puts on one of the best parties of the year, every summer. It just so happens to go down on a golf course, during a very competitive golf tournament.
He lives and breathes the Wichita Open and his efforts have made the best party on a golf course known around the region and the web.com Tour.
Tuesday marked a new chapter in the history of the Wichita Open, now known as the Air Capital Classic. The name change was part of a complete change for the tournament. Preferred Health Systems is no longer the title sponsor but is still a sponsor. Turner said they are starting something called an "Ambassador's Club" sponsorship where they get a bunch of sponsors on a low level.
The Air Capital Classic is a reminder of the aerospace industry in Kansas, and specifically Wichita. Turner feels very strongly about this, sounded like something he wanted to change years ago. Never made sense why the plane manufacturers weren't more involved in a sponsorship basis, even on it's lowest levels. But now they have that, with the name and the help of the Wichita Aero Club.
This is the new world of our economy on the game of golf. Golf, like NASCAR, like many large events survives on sponsorship money. When you have a backer that has deep pockets and is willing to empty those pockets, then life is good. When they don't or can't, life stinks. Turner is helping this tournament survive and finding a way for it to thrive.
The web.com Tour, along with the PGA Tour is now more involved than ever with the tournament and the tour, in general. Tim Benton, vice president of business affairs for the PGA Tour, said at the luncheon Tuesday that $50,000 has been put into every web.com Tournament to boost purses back to competitive and enticing levels. It's all part of a sweeping push to make the web.com Tour more competitive for all members.
It's definitely a change for Turner and how the tournament is run, from behind closed doors. But he is committed to retaining the fun atmosphere that has grown the event. If you thought the 17th hole was awesome as it is, he made it better last year and for 2013? More skyboxes. Four, in fact.
Reminder that the Air Capital Classic will be going on the same week as the US Open, which always pushes the field to it's most competitive. If you can't qualify for the Open, guess where the next paycheck for golf is: Wichita. Come on down, you'll love it.
The Tournament isn't in dire straights but isn't all rainbows either. Turner needs help, he needs more sponsors to make sure the event keeps going off without a hitch. As long as Turner is running the show, I have the utmost confidence that we will be talking about the Air Capital Classic for years to come.