The Duncan Banner

May 4, 2013

Tournaments a positive sign

Ed Darling
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — That lady golfers from Marlow and Comanche competed in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA)  Class 3A state tournament last week is significant.  

Brutal, unseasonal temperatures in the high 30s, a  chill factor that dipped into the low 30s, blustery winds that reached 45 miles an hour and occasional drops of rain will make it, along with the competition, an experience they’ll never forget.  

Boys’ teams from the same local school face similar challenges Monday and Tuesday – hopefully without the bad weather -- when they face other Class 3A schools in their quest for a state crown. That, too, is significant.  Not to be overlooked, however, is that the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club, formerly the Elks Lodge and Country Club, is host for both tournaments.  

A state tournament hasn’t been played here since 1995. So that’s significant as well.  It means, frankly, the owners group and management team of Duncan Golf and Tennis Club has gained the solid footing it promised when it assumed control of the venerable, but troubled, club whose past dates to 1921.  

It means the course is in excellent playing condition.  

It means golfers have recognized the improvements, are talking positively again and are now adding to a heritage rivaled by few clubs in the entire state.  

It means the club looks good and  feels good. Though still a work in progress, it has made remarkable progress since the takeover nearly two years ago.  Area golf coaches, proud of the changes, encouraged DGTC general manager Mike Hansen and his team to explore possibilities for hosting a tournament. That led to internal assessments here which led to applications for Class 5A and Class 3A events which led to site evaluation visits and the ultimate approval for Class 3A competition.  

Considering Duncan is not ideally located geographically for team travel, the selection suggests OSSAA officials really liked what they saw and sensed the support of a solid sports community, now home to new hotels and restaurants and capable of high levels of hospitality.  “We couldn’t be more pleased,” Hansen said during the tournament, taking a brief break for lunch and from the bitter wintry conditions.

 “One of our goals was to generate and expand interest in youth golf . What better way than to have the best young players playing here and drawing attention to Duncan.  

“It means a lot to us because it means a lot to them and to their schools. It’s their Masters, their U.S. Open, their biggest event of the year and we’re happy to be part of that.  

“It’s neat,” he continued, “to see their excitement and it’s fun to see the parents just as jittery as the players.”  Praising member support and local golf interest, he hopes the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club can become part of  the regular tournament rotation, adding to its junior commitment that already includes prestigious outings like Duncan High’s Southern Oklahoma Invitational (SOI) and the Hoedebeck Memorial tournament.  Hansen’s tournament grin easily extends to the overall club progress.  

All is going well, he said. Consistent hot weather would help the Bermuda grass grow (Daytime-nighttime temperatures need to exceed 150 degrees) and more rain would obviously help everything, but the greens remain in great shape and the fairways and rough have improved a lot.

“I couldn’t be happier with our staff,” he said. “It has far exceeded our expectations.”  

He said the revised semi-private membership format is working well, too, with 302 members, and he suggests a new food service arrangement should become popular and successful quickly.

Interurban Restaurants, which started in Norman in 1976, will begin managing food operations in the 100-seat member and 150-seat public dining areas, the 260-seat  ballroom, the 19th Hole and swimming pool in June. Planning and coordination efforts are already under way.  

“We’re all tugging on the same end of the rope,” Hansen said. “It’s a quality operation with lots of experience. We share a similar vision and see a bright future.”  It’s a theme of progress that’s becoming commonplace.  And a state championship by either Marlow or Comanche in next week’s tournament would add another special touch.

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