Updated: Jun 1

It was early fall 2007. I already reported to college but was excused from baseball practice for the weekend because it this one was special: my sister was getting married in Manhattan (shout-out B and T). I caught the golf bug over the previous summer because I worked at a golf course while attempting to play summer baseball. I say attempting because I rode the pine a lot that summer.


The wedding wasn't until the evening and we decided to get a group together to go play some golf that morning. Our destination: Rolling Meadows north of Junction City by Milford Lake.


We had an eclectic group that morning and I'm not entirely sure who was all there. Damn near fifteen years ago at this point. Again, shout-out B and T... I'm sure there were uncles and cousins, and know my dad was there in another group. All I can say for sure is that my group was myself, my older brother, and two of our soon-to-be-brother-in-law's college friends. They also happened to be brothers so we had a sibling rivalry thing going on that morning.


I don't remember much about the round or how I was playing. I do know that we were having fun and knocking back enough beer that my brother and I needed a pact of silence to prevent getting in trouble with our sister on her big day. We finished up nine, reloaded the cooler in the clubhouse, teed off on the tenth and away we went.


We were deep in conversation and driving down the tenth fairway when my brother, who was driving our cart, took a big drink, screamed, then jumped out at full speed. He was waiving his arms, running, and yelling; it was a pretty wild scene. Through all the commotion, I still wasn't quite sure what happened. He was running in circles before he dropped to a knee in the middle of the fairway. It took me a second to get my bearings. I got the cart stopped and our playing partners circled back to see what the hell was going on. I was a little scared to be honest. I ran to my brother who was still crouching on the ground...


Me: "Dude, what the hell was that?! You alright?!"

Z: "There was a bee in my beer! It stung me on the tongue!"


The ensuing laughter carried us through the rest of the round. My brother was fine; it wasn't near as big of a deal as he made it out to be in the moment. Shit like that only happens to my brother. And I know the rest of us were glad we were there to witness it. Ended up being a damn good day and one that I will always remember for a whole bunch of different reasons.


That was my first memory of Rolling Meadows. I've been back several times since then and always have a great time. And every time I go back, the course is always better than it was before. That is largely due to the subject of this Super Spotlight: Nic Youngers. Appreciate Nic taking the time to answer our questions and have a little fun talking about his job, his course, and his life.


If you have the chance to get to Rolling Meadows, do it. Just make sure your beer has a lid...

JP: Give us a little background on you personally. Where are you from? Where did you go to school? How long have you been at RM? Any professional and personal accomplishments you want everyone to know about? Brag a little!

NY: I'm born and raised a Kansas boy. I grew up in Wichita before moving to Clearwater where I went to high school. I went to Kansas City Kansas Community College to play golf for a couple of years before going to Kansas State for a degree in Golf Course Management. I have been at Rolling Meadows for going on six years. Probably the biggest professional accomplishment has to be the zoysia conversion that we completed in 2018. It was a bear to take on, but so much fun! Definitely my personal accomplishment was becoming a Dad (#girldad) to my three and half year old twin daughters Leah and Laila. My wife Cortney is a rock-star taking care of our two kids, and me, who is also a kid.


JP: With two little ones and a rock-star at home myself, I know getting out and playing can be a challenge but how’s your golf game? Strengths, weaknesses of your game?

NY: My handicap is far better than my game actually is. Without a doubt my strength is my short game and recovery game. It makes up for the weakness of poor ball striking. Playing is difficult between work and family life, but I usually find time. I am lucky my wife tells me to get out of the house to play!


JP: How did you get into this? What is your motivation?

NY: I got into this because I knew I could not be locked in an office for eight hours a day. Roaming 130 acres with endless jobs to do sounded so much more fun. My motivation is like many in this field: work hard to attain perfection even when all odds are usually against you.

JP: What are some of the major projects you’ve tackled at RM?

NY: This list seems like it should be spread over twenty years, but somehow it has been crammed into six. Before I get into any of it, it is not possible to complete any of these projects without the support of my bosses, and the hard work of the staff that works at Rolling Meadows. Here are some of the highlights: 1) Zoysia Conversion in 2017-2018, 2) Irrigation controller install/upgrade in 2019-2020, 3) Driving range and chipping green construction in 2017, 4) Clubhouse remodel in 2019. I told my wife no more projects about four times now. Every time I tell her that, she knows another one is coming.


JP: Damn man! How do you have time to sleep?! That list is impressive, and I don't want to give you any anxiety, but what's next? You have to be running out of major projects?

NY: Hopefully we will be finished with projects for a while. I could see an eventual conversion of the rough to Bermuda, but that would be a few years down the road. Some of the smaller things coming would be a pavilion structure for larger events to have a place for meals and gatherings. Our fundraising board, The Friends of Rolling Meadows, has been the amazing driving force behind that project. We can’t be who we are at Rolling Meadows without them!


JP: What have been some of your biggest challenges at RM and how have you addressed those?

NY: When I started here, I had two great superintendents before me who got Rolling Meadows off to a good start towards a rebuild. The first thing I did was list the priorities of the course. As soon as I'd check one off the list, I'd move onto another. The list grows by one and shrinks by one each year. The biggest challenge that we took care of was the zoysia conversion. When I started here, the fairways were a mix of cool season turf. Minimal chemical and staff money made zoysia the logical choice for us. Once we completed the conversion, we were able to move onto other areas of the course because the fairways were no longer eating up the majority of our labor and chemical budget.


JP: This is quickly becoming my favorite question: what are some things golfers do that piss you off, other than not fixing divots?

NY: NOT OBEYING CART RESTRICTIONS. We don’t do it to be mean. We work hard to produce a quality product, and simply staying on the path after a big rain respects that.

JP: Seems like a common thread from the supers we've talked to. What's the solution to that problem, other than banning all dumbasses? No carts after rains? Know it is a small number of golfers that are the problem but still, if you're all saying that, it is a big problem.

NY: I have had days where I have wanted to pull keys out of carts on the course when people can’t obey. I am lucky that it isn’t a super big issue at Rolling Meadows. If someone forgets and does drive off path, a kind reminder usually keeps them in check. But I would love to see that reaction if I drove up and took the key to their cart.


JP: That would be hilarious. Make sure you film it if you ever do pull someone's keys. That's the bad thing, tell us what aspect do you enjoy most about your job?

NY: Summer mornings. A greens mower and a cup of coffee with it are about as good as it gets. I also enjoy hearing what the customers have to say. They are the ones paying for a product, so their opinion is very important.


JP: A lawn mower with a cup of coffee sounds pretty damn peaceful. What is the one thing you do that has the biggest impact on players that most of us don’t know about/recognize?

NY: Tournament set up for our stroke play tournaments are where I love to impact the individual rounds. Moving tees up on hole five so the longer hitters can try to drive the green, sucker pin placements, and placing tees to make tee shots comfortable or uncomfortable for the player. I always try to be fair about it though. Golf is supposed to be fun, and nothing pleases me more than to hear, “I haven’t seen that before, and I like it!” out of a golfers mouth. I really get a grin out of hearing it when my assistant does something along those lines and I had no hand in it. He is growing as a professional and a person every day!


JP: Other than RM, give us a couple of your favorite places to play?

NY: Manhattan Country Club of course. I worked there for six years. I started there working for Cliff Dipman, and by the time he retired, I was engaged to his daughter. Cortney knows I married her just to have my beer drinking and sports watching buddy in Cliff. Cherry Oaks has a place in my heart too. I grew up with a junior membership there every summer. It’s always a treat to go back there even if I have to put up with Fowler! Of course Clearwater Greens has me. Playing there every year for high school golf practice, you learn how to land a shot yards short of a green because they have no pitch to stop a shot. 380 yard drives on rock hard buffalo grass fairways are fun too.

JP: Whoa, whoa. Backup a second. Your wife is the daughter of a super? Talk about that for a second. Are family gatherings dominated by golf course talk? Seems like you and Cliff have a great relationship but where does the family dynamic intersect with the super dynamic you both share?

NY: Cliff was married before and has a daughter, Kelsey, who lives in Chicago. Cliff married Christy, who had Cortney. So, Cliff is technically a stepdad, but it was always a true dad/daughter relationship. Cortney knew what she was getting into when she married me. She knew about the stress, long days, hot summers, and to save the honey-do lists for November through February. Cortney and Kelsey's relationship has been great the past few years because within six months of each other, they both had twins.


Cliff lost his battle with cancer in October 2019. So amazingly hard to grow grass every day without thinking of him. Working for him made me so much of who I am, but the relationship we had off of the course was far greater. We would talk shop for a few minutes, but it became more of talking about my kids/his grandkids, sports, food, and of course, “do you need another Bud Light?” I would talk to Cliff every day. As the cancer progressed, he lost his voice. We resorted to Snapchat, texts, and a white board to communicate. Let me tell you, Cliff had such a sense of humor even when he had to write a joke on a white board.


Cliff meant so much to me in the turf world, but at his funeral seeing grown men cry over the loss of him made me realize two things: 1) Cliff was a Dad to all of us who would give you anything. And 2) as myself, Cortney, Christy (Cortney's Mom), Kelsey, husband Mike, and Cortney's half-sister Linda, all embraced before the funeral began, we realized Cliff was training us all along for the days when he would be gone. He looked out for all of us, and now we have a tighter family relationship. It is thanks to him. Here's a great link to learn more about Cliff's life and legacy.


JP: Wow. That is an incredible story and thanks for sharing. I'm not an emotional person but need a second after that one. What a great way to remember someone who had such an impact on you... Hard to change directions after that but only have one more and maybe this is a time to pass along some of your knowledge (and Cliff's) to others out there: what is the one thing you see in golf courses that would be the easiest to fix? Thinking of small town places and how they might be able to fix something easy that they might not know about?

NY: The biggest thing with all courses is that they don’t realize what they are and what they need to be. They focus more on what the other guy is doing instead of what they can comfortably afford to produce a quality product for the customer. Whether we like it or not, the customer is always right.

Appreciate Nic for taking the time to answer our questions. And next time you're up in that part of the state, stop in to see what Nic is up to at Rolling Meadows. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to share a Bud Light with you and talk about his course. Remember, just make sure you cover up your beer.


We're glad you're here...

- tMP

Updated: Jun 1

Medicine Lodge Golf Course as you've never experienced it before.



I understand this post might not be for everyone and that’s okay. Hopefully some reading this out there will think to themselves, “hey, why can’t my small-town course do that?” Because this is the story of tMP’s newest partner course: our hometown of Medicine Lodge, Kansas.


To be honest, this was the one course I always thought about when we were developing the idea for this company called the Middle Pin. It was the place I first learned to play with my grandpa “Doc” riding around in his 1970s era cart that made me more than a little embarrassed to be seen in. I took junior golf there a couple times. Baseball had my heart most of the time back then but it was always fun to get out and play with grandpa, or dad, or my brother, or high school friends. I remember more than once getting dropped off in the morning to play all day (for $15.00 in the honor box) and get picked up by my dad on his way home from work. It holds a lot of nostalgia.


And I feel it every time I go back. I don’t make it into town every time I visit my parents’ farm to play, but make back enough that I can recognize the changes that happened since my last visit. My scores there are a lot better now than they used to be but I still get that “man, it’s good to be home” feeling every time I step on the tee. The view from the tee box on hole four is stunning and is one of my favorite places on planet earth.

Kevin hitting a tee shot at one of my favorite places on Earth.


Yet, even today, when I go to play with my dad, I always run into the same problem: begging for someone to cover my green fee. And it isn’t that I don't have the money; it still only costs $20.00 to play all day. It's that I don’t have cash or a check to leave in the honor box. If any criminals are out there reading this, let this serve as your warning not to rob me: you won’t walk away with any cash because homie won't have any. Anyone who has won a bet on the golf course with me already knows this fact. I don't even own a check book anymore. Without a way to take the only payment I had, I was always asking whoever I was playing with if they could cover me. I hope everyone who has an IOU for Medicine Lodge Golf Course green fees doesn’t all come collecting at once…


I’m immensely proud of where I came from. It wasn’t perfect, still isn’t; but that environment and its people helped mold me into the person I am today. The golf course is only a small part of that. And it’s the only part I can really help with now. We want people from Medicine Lodge to be proud of what they have and to present it in a way that makes them proud to have us involved. And, we want golfers from all over to visit and see this unique course for themselves.


This might not have been possible without the vision and passion of some others who want all the same things. Michael Axline, who has followed the Middle Pin from the beginning and approached us about doing a website for our hometown course. He was the one really got the ball rolling and stepped up to sponsor the site’s development as his way of giving back to this special place. Bryant Theis, who also has followed the Middle Pin from the beginning and has been a catalyst for the course since getting more involved. He’s been texting me to come down and play in some of their tournaments for a couple years and I can’t wait to take him up on it in 2020. Gaten, Judd, Brooke, Michael, Cliff, Tom, Richard, and the rest of the Board I might be missing, for meeting with us, seeing the vision, and giving us the go ahead. This has been a fun project to do and hope you all enjoy the finished product. And, more importantly, I hope you find the online payment solutions useful as your course moves into the 21st Century. I can guarantee at least one golfer will find this website useful every time I visit.

The short sixth hole in Medicine Lodge right into the teeth of the south wind.


Here is a link to the website: MedicineLodgeGC.com.


This isn’t a finished product and we’ll be down to update photos and video when things green up. We hope you spending some time seeing your course as you’ve never seen it and supporting your course in ways you never have before. Green fees can now be paid online through this site. All memberships (and membership add-ons like cart shed, trail fees, etc.) can also be paid online either through the one-time yearly payment option or through monthly payments automatically broken out and paid on a specified date. Your golf course membership can now be just like your Netflix account. And it can all be done in less than five minutes.


To those reading this who are interested in what we can do for your course, hit us up. We’d love to help in anyway we can. This one was special to us; there’s only one course you can say that you “grew up” on. And it's corny as shit to write, but your course is special to us too. We might not have ever played there, we might not know anyone there, and you might not believe us. But we have a mission to promote golf out here in the middle and help the places like the one we grew up playing. We’ll do that anywhere at any time.


Thanks again to everyone down in Medicine Lodge and hope you all enjoy the new website. Looking forward to a continued partnership to help your golf course.


I’ll wrap this up with a quote from Comanche Chief Ten Bears given during signing of the Treaty of Medicine Lodge in October 1867. This was the last thing the revered Chief said to the peace commission that day and summed up his feelings about this land. And we couldn’t say it any better:


“I want it all clear and pure and I wish it so that all who go through among my people may find peace when they come in and leave it when they go out.”

As always, we’re glad you’re here.

tMP

Updated: Jun 1

We've made it! The final installment of our three part series finding the best 18 holes of golf in the Sunflower State is here. Some people, namely myself, are calling it the Middle Pin Super-Course. It's a thing.

The sun is setting on the Middle Pin Super-Course Best 18 in Kansas.


In case you missed it, here are links to both part I and part II. It's worth reading them in order because we put some important stipulations on ourselves in making this list. It's been fun, and super challenging, to come up with this list. Hope you enjoy the finale!


Best 18 in Kansas - Part III

13. Rolling Meadows (Junction City) – Par 3

Thirteen at Rolling Meadows will leave you with a lasting memory.

I worked at a golf course one summer in my college years when I first learned of this hole. I told my boss I wanted to play golf somewhere near Manhattan while in town for my sister's wedding later that fall. My boss (shout-out Landon) suggested Rolling Meadows, based solely on this hole. It undoubtedly leaves an impression the first time playing this course. And you don't get the story of this hole based on the yardage on the scorecard. Finishing the twelfth hole, you'll go straight up the hill directly to the north of the twelfth green. I call it a hill, but it seems like more of a mountain. From there, the player is faced with just a 170-150 yard shot depending on the tee box you're playing. However, this thing goes straight down it never plays to that yardage, unless maybe there is a stiff east wind. The hole is so steep in fact, that from the back tees, you likely won't be able to see the green below. There is plenty of room to bail out to the right on this hole, except for the green-side bunker on the right side, but anything down the left is in the trees and will likely result in a dropped ball. My old boss was right in suggesting this course and wasn't kidding about his memory of this hole. It is a unique challenge and a whole lot of fun to play.

Runners up: Wamego Country Club, Auburn Hills, Terradyne Country Club


14. Auburn Hills (Wichita) – Par 4

Fourteenth green at Auburn is surrounded by all sorts of trouble. Believe me, I know.

I’ll freely admit, I’ve never played this hole well. Ever. I played this hole last week and took yet another triple bogey, leaving behind a new Pro-V1 in the lake and plenty of expletives on the green. But for the best fourteenth hole in the state, I chose Auburn Hills in Wichita. Facing west/northwest off the tee, the hole bends around a creek bed and lake to the north in a gradual dogleg. You’ll notice the large mound with bunkers and native grass straight ahead through the fairway. Hit whatever club you need to be short of that mess because a big number comes into play from that position. There is plenty of width to land the tee shot but angles come into play on the second as the further right you go the shorter the approach but also brings in more hazards with the lake and a deep greenside bunker on the right side. The green is cut into a large bank on the left with a drainage collection area on the short right of the green that runs mostly north-south with a large spine that cuts through the back half of the green. I’ve struggled on this hole just about every way a player can. I’ve hit tee shots in the lake, in the bunkers and native grass straight through the fairway. I’ve dunked approach shots in the lake and splattered them in the greenside bunker. I’ve three-putted this green more times than I care to remember. Yet, despite my struggles on this hole, I still like it because knowing the strategy of how to play a golf hole and actually executing it are two entirely different things.

Runners up: Prairie Dunes, Stagg Hill, Salina Country Club


15. Sand Creek Station (Newton) – Par 4

There is plenty of room and plenty of choices at Sand Creek.

As you’ve read through on parts I and II, one key for me in judging these holes was the choices they provide for players and this hole at Sand Creek Station in Newton does just that. From the elevated tee, the hole faces the northeast, and there are a couple features that immediately stick out, mainly the large mound with principle nose bunkers carved into its face situated right in the middle of the fairway. The mound gives the player a choice on not only direction of their shot, but also length. There are options left, right, long, and short, of the mound and the wind speed and direction will help the player with make the decision that is best off the tee. The hole is also framed by large mounds on either side of the fairway closer to the green and the green sits in a bit of a bowl. The mounds might block the view of the green for the approach shot which only adds to the excitement of this hole. This hole will make you think and it will reward the right choice and execution. What more could you ask for in a golf hole?

Runners up: Prairie Dunes, Colbert Hills, Tallgrass Country Club


16. Topeka Country Club (Topeka) – Par 4

They've been playing at Topeka Country Club since the carts were one horse power.

From Kansas Memory.

This was one of the toughest holes to pick. For one, we've already used fifteen other courses on the list and have a couple more already penciled in for seventeen and eighteen. For two, it seems like sixteenth holes just aren't that memorable, for me at least. So Topeka Country Club kind of wins by default here. And that is mostly because of the person who designed it. Originally laid out by famed architect Tom Bendelow, Topeka Country Club opened as a nine-hole course in 1905, making it one of the oldest, and most illustrious, golf courses in the state. Sure, stars like Bob Hope, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson have teed it up here. But so did President Taft. Which is pretty damn cool. Plans for the course's expansion to eighteen holes were postponed several times in the early years of the club until Perry Maxwell designed the additional nine, which opened in 1940. This hole isn't long, but there is a choice off the tee box in attacking the dogleg left hole. Mature trees line both sides of the fairway and act as a wall for any player trying to take the short cut off the tee. However, a long ball isn't a requirement as even a tee shot of 180 yards down the middle will leave just a mid-iron to the green.


Sixteen was a tough choice to make but considering that doubt, we went with a hole on a course designed by the region's preeminent architects at one of the state's most historic courses.

Runners up: Colbert Hills, Flint Hills National, Sim Park


17. Buffalo Dunes (Garden City) – Par 3

Even with no one in the stands, the seventeenth at Buffalo Dunes feels intense.

If you haven’t played golf at Buffalo Dunes in Garden City, stop what you are doing and start planning a trip. Most people, especially those who have never been there, think western Kansas is this flat, barren landscape. Buffalo Dunes proves that notion to be wildly false. Heading south of Garden City to the course a few miles outside of town, the landscape totally transforms into rolling sand hills covered in grass and yucca. It’s a stunning setting and this golf course fits in perfectly to the terrain while also providing some of the most beautiful views in the entire state.


In the same vein, looking at the scorecard doesn’t tell the story of this great hole either. Measuring about 160 yards, the hole actually plays a little longer as the tabletop green is perched above the teeing ground. The hole faces the southeast so the prevailing wind out of the south will likely be another factor in club selection on this hole. When I had the pleasure of playing this course a few years ago, a large grandstand for patrons watching the annual Southwest Kansas Pro-Am, the longest running professional tournament in the state, was located just behind the green to add to this hole’s ambiance (the grandstand might be up all the time?). That tournament features rounds at both Buffalo Dunes and the Golf Club at Southwind just up the road.


There are a lot of false notions out there and Buffalo Dunes and its seventeenth hole will go a long way to dispel any preconceived notions of golf in western Kansas.

Runners up: Prairie Dunes, Sand Creek Station, Turkey Creek


18. Flint Hills National (Andover) – Par 5

The state's tree plays a prominent role on the eighteenth at Flint Hills National.

To be fair, Flint Hills National could have been anywhere on this list. But, having just recently played it (and already published the other three pieces of the Best 18 in Kansas), I had to find a spot. This par five hole tees off to the southwest and the hole curves around the large lake that separates the first hole from the eighteenth. The tee shot features a forced carry over some part of the lake; however, the choice is yours on how much you want to take off and getting overly aggressive on the tee might not be the best choice as the hole’s unique feature, a gigantic cottonwood tree, comes into play on nearly all second shots. There is a window to go at the green in two but for most, the shot will either be too long or the cottonwood will force a layup to the end of the fairway before crossing over the lake inlet short of the green. The layup to the prime position will leave a third of less than 130 yards to attack the pin location. The green is large and undulating, a staple of Flint Hills National. The tree eliminates some of the choice for the player as it dominates the hole on both the second and third shots (if out of position) but it is certainly a unique feature and, combined with the imposing clubhouse leering over the eighteenth green, helps to make this finish so picturesque.

Runners up: Terradyne Country Club, Hillcrest, Salina Country Club, Macdonald


That’s it. That’s all we have. As stated in earlier posts, we know we haven’t played everywhere and these are just our opinions. Maybe you have other ideas. We hope you do and that you’ll share them in the comments below and on our social media accounts.



the Middle Pin Super-Course Official Scorecard:

1. Colbert Hills (Manhattan) – Par 5, 590 yards

2. Crestview Country Club, North Course (Wichita) – Par 5, 563 yards

3. Cedarbrook (Iola) – Par 4, 270 yards

4. Indian Hill (Chapman) – Par 4, 400 yards

5. Salina Country Club – Par 4, 371 yards

6. Tamarisk (Syracuse) – Par 4, 418 yards

7. Sugar Valley (Mound City) – Par 4, 350 yards

8. Priaire Dunes (Hutchinson) – Par 4, 468 yards

9. Hillcrest (Coffeyville) – Par 4, 326 yards

10. Macdonald (Wichita) – Par 5, 524 yards

11. Cottonwood Hills (Hutchinson) – Par 4, 373 yards

12. Rolling Hills Country Club (Wichita) – Par 5, 561 yards

13. Rolling Meadows (Junction City) – Par 3, 170 yards

14. Auburn Hills (Wichita) – Par 4, 404 yards

15. Sand Creek Station (Newton) – Par 4, 382 yards

16. Topeka Country Club – Par 4, 332 yards

17. Buffalo Dunes (Garden City) – Par 3, 160 yards

18. Flint Hills National (Andover) – Par 5, 496 yards

TOTALS:

Par – 75 (38 out; 37 in)

Yards – 7,158


We’re glad you’re here. – tMP

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