By Kevin Collison
The new streetcar has been a vehicle for a lot of things–downtown commuting, spurring development and drawing weekend tourists–but a golf cart?
That’s the plan for this Saturday when the Downtown Open organized by KC Crew returns for a fourth year.
Participants will start at the event’s Washington Square Park “clubhouse” and ride the streetcar to their custom three-hole course where they’ll chip special golfballs from tall rooftops and putt in participating taverns.
Luke Wade, the lead organizer, expects a thousand people will enjoy what has become a fun way to see a side of downtown most people seldom, if ever, encounter.
“We live in a metro where people think they have to drive and park everywhere they go,” he said. “This gets people to use the streetcar.
“People realize they can then walk which is a great thing for the downtown community. It helps connect all parts of downtown, from the River Market to Union Station.
“They’re having fun coming to the different restaurants and bars.”
Wade was inspired to start the Downtown Open by similar events he heard about in Europe and his own college experience at Southeast Missouri State.
“In college, we chipped around campus using trees as holes. People had been doing it for years.”
He started the event with the help of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, and its quickly picked up sponsors including the Calloway golf equipment company and Boulevard Brewing.
“We were able to get everybody on board because the streetcar was really popular,” he said. “We use unique golf balls with a foam core similar to regular golf balls but they don’t do damage.”
And landlords have been receptive.
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, One Light, Corrigan Station and the City Market are among the places participating. And bars love the crowds coming into putt and have a beer or drink too.
The event starts at 1 p.m. at Washington Square Park. Tickets are $25 for individuals, but if you get a group of eight- to 10 you can participated for $20. You can register here.
When you arrive at the park, you pick which three-hole course you want to play. Equipment and balls are furnished.
All afternoon there are food trucks, drinks and yard games at the park and live music begins at 3 p.m. when The Fantastics start playing.
This year, the revamped Kansas City Club is one of the participants. Golfers can try out the facility’s golf simulator for the longest drive challenge. The longest drive wins a Calloway golf club.
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