After a year of being played with no spectators, the Wichita Open is again welcoming golf fans for the event that in 2019 was named the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry Tour Tournament of the Year. The 2021 Wichita Open – a 72-hole competition featuring 156 players from around the world – runs June 14-20 with competition rounds June 17-20 on Crestview Country Club’s North Course.
More than 50,000 spectators and some of the best golfers in the world vying to play on the PGA Tour attend the annual event that defines golf in Wichita. Due to the pandemic, the Korn Ferry Tour’s 2020 and 2021 seasons combined as a one-time, wraparound season due to prior event cancellations. The newly created 2020-21 schedule will conclude with 25 PGA Tour cards awarded at the 2021 Pinnacle Bank Championship, with an additional 25 cards awarded at the conclusion of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Here are six fun facts about the most anticipated Wichita golf event of the year:
This is the 32nd year for the Wichita Open and the past 21 years have been played at Crestview Country Club, the only 36-hole country club in Kansas. Crestview’s North Course is a challenging course with many 3- to 5-par holes.
The most famous feature for spectators is the Coors Light Corner at the 17th green, featuring VIP chalets and a festive atmosphere. The 17th green chalets draw 3,000 to 4,000 spectators a day.
Nineteen Wichita Open alumni have gone on to win a major tournament.
Debuting in 1990, the tournament is one of four original tour stops that remain on the current schedule.
This year, the golf tournament begins a three-year partnership with KU Wichita Pediatrics to serve as the event’s charitable partner. The tournament will now formally be called the Wichita Open benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics.
The Korn Ferry Tour announced earlier this year that the Wichita Open purse will increase from $600,000 to $750,000 in 2022 and $1 million in 2023.
All Wichita Open events are outside and social distancing is encouraged. There are sanitizing stations available, and masks are available but not mandatory.
There also will be onsite COVID vaccinations the week of the tournament. Anyone vaccinated during the tournament is eligible for a cash giveaway drawing, with three $500 winners. Check the event website for the vaccination schedule.
Limited Tickets Remain
Grounds passes are $10 per day per person with all proceeds going to KU Wichita Pediatrics. One-day passes to the 17th green VIP experience are $85 per person and sell out every year. At publication time, 17th green tickets remained for Thursday as well as wristbands for the Syndeo Bird’s Nest at the 17th tee box, where you can see golfers hitting to 17 and can also see three other holes.
Spectator parking is $6 per day (all proceeds go to the Wichita YMCA) and is available at the Textron Aviation/Beechcraft site a few miles away, where air-conditioned shuttle vans transport guests to the course.
Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 316.219.9046.
The 17th Hole
If you’re already a fan of the game, you’ll appreciate the quality of golf on the challenging North Course at Crestview Country Club, along with the organized fun available through the one-of-a-kind 17th Green VIP Experience. If you’re a casual fan, the 17th hole will open your eyes to just how fun watching golf can be.
“Our 17th hole is widely accepted as the best hole on the Korn Ferry Tour. We’ve done a few things different here in Wichita and while other tournaments have tried, they haven’t been able to re-create the atmosphere that we have here,” said Tournament Director Roy Turner. “It’s organized fun that respects the golfers for what they do for a living. The caddies and players enjoy it, too.”
Turner turned the Wichita Open’s signature hole – No. 17 – into one of the best on the Korn Ferry Tour by engaging the local business community. It started with three chalets where corporate sponsors would bring clients, employees and friends on Friday afternoon, and soon the atmosphere was so fun that others wanted in. There are now more than 50 chalets and each chalet holds 60 people. Most are reserved in January each year by corporate sponsors. The Wichita Open retains several chalets and sells individual tickets, which always sell out so secure your pass early!
The 17th Green VIP Experience chalets offer shade, seating, air-conditioned restrooms and a festive atmosphere. A popular local DJ plays music, runs contests and emcees each day the chalets are open, Thursday through Sunday.
Many of the golfers on the tour are used to approaching a hole with an audience of 10, not 3,000 to 4,000 fans. While the crowd is having a good time, they are respectful of the game, too. When a golfer is putting, you can hear a pin drop. If the putt goes in, the stadium falls down. Often caddies will race each other to the 17th green, and golfers might even throw out a souvenir to a spectator.