If you’re of the mindset that golf can be mundane, you haven’t watched from the festive 17th hole at the Wichita Open. 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.
“Our 17th hole is widely accepted as the best hole on the Web.com 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.”
As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Wichita Open, from June 13-23 with competition rounds June 20-23, check out what makes the 17th hole special and join in on the fun.
It grew organically
Turner turned the Wichita Open’s signature hole – No. 17 – into one of the best on the Web.com 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 will be 52 chalets this year and each chalet holds 60 people. Most are reserved in January each year by corporate sponsors. The Wichita Open retains two chalets and sells individual tickets, which will sell out!
The tournament is figuring out ways to give more fans this unique experience, and this year they are experimenting with adding chalets near the tee box on 17 in addition to the existing chalets around the green. You’ll see the golfers hitting to 17 and can also see three other holes by moving around the chalet.
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.
Golfers and caddies get into the fun
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.
Top golfers from around the world
The Wichita Open is in its 30th year and is one of the Web.com Tour's original four events. It attracts more than 48,000 spectators and some of the top golfers in the world, who are vying for 50 available PGA TOUR cards. The Web.com Tour has a 24-event regular season followed by the three-event Web.com Tour Finals in August.
The field at the Wichita Open has included 14 major champions over the years. Another way to measure the talent you’ll see: 55 former Wichita Open players were part of the 156-man U.S. Open Field in 2018. The tournament's 2017 edition was won by 2016 NCAA Champion Aaron Wise, who went on to earn 2018 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year.
Want in on the fun?
Grounds passes are $10 per day per person with all proceeds going to a local charity (you can choose from one of four). There is public seating at the 17th hole but to participate fully in the festivities you’ll need an invite to a VIP chalet or to purchase an individual 17th Green VIP Experience pass. These passes are limited so secure one soon: one-day passes are $75 per person, or there’s a $1,000 package of four tickets for all four days of competition. Spectator parking is $6 and available at the Textron Aviation/Beechcraft site a few miles away, where air-conditioned shuttle vans transport guests to the course.
For more events and experiences, check out the Visit Wichita calendar of events page. Don’t forget to download the free Visit Wichita mobile app available for Apple or Android smartphones and tablets.