From Missouri Golf Association Director, Scott Hovis—
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 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-thousand 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 8, the Missouri National Guard arrived at Turkey Creek and with the help of golf architect Todd Clark of CE Golf Design, 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 15, Wadsworth Golf Company finished the first ever, fully handicap accessible, 9-hole golf course in the United States!
Who is Ken Lanning?
Ken Lanning, a lifelong Rolla native who made perhaps more contributions to junior golf in Missouri than any other person, died Saturday March 8, 2014 at the Missouri Veteran’s Home in Mexico, MO. He was born on December 10, 1923 to Joe Dan Lanning and Dora E. (Green) Lanning. After serving in WWII, Ken returned to Rolla to continue his education at the “School of Mines” and build a career. He was a real estate developer and an active member of the community for many years. He was a founder of the Rolla Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization. Ken was best known as a top competitor and respected teacher of the game of golf. “Mr. Golf” started his career playing for the Missouri School of Mines; was a nine time winner of the Missouri Sand Greens championship; a winner of the U.S. Team Championship; a three time medalist and a semifinalist numerous times in the Missouri State Amateur Championship; and the Captain of the Missouri Amateur Cup Team which was undefeated for four years.
Lanning is a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as well as the Missouri S&T Sports Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Golf Digest national award for contributions to junior golf and was a member of the Missouri Golf Association (MGA) Board of Directors for 31 years. He was one of the greatest golfers in the history of the S&T Miner program, which has since been discontinued. He became one of Missouri’s greatest ever amateur players. Mr. Lanning is also a member of the MGA Hall of Fame.
But his greatest work, according to most peers, was his efforts to promote junior golf. He sponsored the Ken Lanning Junior Golf Tournament for 27 years, and the tourney continued even when his health no longer allowed him to participate. He held as many as 15 junior golf clinics each year around the state, where top amateurs and pros would come and teach boys and girls. Some of the best golfers Missouri has produced from the 1960s-80s were tutored by Lanning, including future PGA great Payne Stewart. His Ken Lanning Junior Golf Tournament was the state’s largest junior tourney for decades. Twenty-eight years ago Lanning began sponsoring the junior golf tournament that bares his name. And, even after his health began to fail, the tournament has been held every year since, and at one time was the largest junior golf tournament in the state.
Ken Lanning was the founder and leader of the Missouri Junior Golf Association. Teaching kids to play the game of golf was his passion. Mr. Lanning is the reason for the success of many great golfers that have played golf in Missouri.
WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP.
We're still working to reach our goal and your contribution helps to ensure that golf is accessible to everyone.
Please consider donating.