Big 12 Championships – Kansas, USA

The Iowa State men’s golf team played in the Big 12 Championship in late April.  The tournament was held on the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Kansas.

This was the fourth and final Big 12 Championship for Nick – he is in his Senior year at Iowa State and will graduate in May.  The team have had a stellar season – they won three tournaments and were runner up twice cementing a number 46 national ranking by Golfweek.  The three victories is the most by a Cyclones squad since the 1996 – 97 season.

Unfortunately the cold temperatures and high winds at Prairie Dunes did not favour the Cyclones and they finished 9th out of the 10 teams.  Nick played quite well tying for 13th – he narrowly missed his fourth straight top 10 performance at the Big 12 Championships by a stroke.  Nick had rounds of 76, 71, 75 and 74 for a total of 296.  The winner was from Kansas and had a four round total of 287.

Texas won the tournament by a stroke from Oklahoma.

In Nick’s own words……..

I struck the ball beautifully in the first two rounds – I felt like I had my driver on a string and my ball flight was strong and in control.  Unfortunately the ball striking wasn’t quite so good in the next two rounds.  However, I didn’t have any wasted or any really wayward shots off the tee.  The conditions were tough and I was very pleased that I only had one double bogey all week when there were plenty to be had out there.

I had to get creative out there because the conditions called for shots that weren’t basic and straight forward – it was into the wind and up and over areas with a lot of slope.

My putting was the poorest part of my game this week – there were a lot of double breaking putts within 10 feet which is not something I have put a lot of time into.

Practice round

Prairie Dunes Country Club

Emerson Carey, founder of Carey Salt Company, was an avid golfer and had traveled the world with his family, playing top ranked courses in the early 1900s including Scotland in the 1920s. Carey and his four sons became a staple in the Hutchinson golf community, contributing to the development of several courses in the area. In 1935 the Carey family commissioned architectural genius Perry Maxwell (Southern Hills, Colonial Country Club, redesign of Pine Valley and Augusta National) to design a masterpiece. Thus, the idea of Prairie Dunes was born.

Maxwell’s response to the 480 acre canvas for his masterpiece, “There are 118 holes here, and all I have to do is eliminate 100”.

Thus, construction began on Prairie Dunes. The course was molded from the Kansas land using 18 horses and mules, Fresno scrapers and wheelbarrows. The only mechanized equipment used were Model T and Model A Fords used to bring the workers to the site. Greens and fairways came to life by teams dragging plows and scoops, while roots of native grass and weeds were removed by hand-one wheelbarrowful at a time.

Prairie Dunes opened the first nine holes on September 13, 1937. Twenty years later, in 1957, The Dunes opened the second nine holes, designed by Perry Maxwell’s son, Press.

The Big 12 Conference

The Big 12 Conference is a ten-school collegiate athletic conference headquartered in Irving, Texas. It is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I for all sports; its football teams compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; formerly Division I-A), the higher of two levels of NCAA Division I football competition. Its ten members, located in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, include eight public and two private Christian schools. The Big 12 includes 23 sports – 10 in which men compete in and 13 in which women compete in.

The Big 12 was formerly composed of 12 schools, hence its name: it was formed in 1996 when four schools from the collapsing Southwest Conference (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor) joined with the pre-existing Big Eight Conference. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were grouped with the four newcomers in the “Big 12 South”, while the remaining 6 teams of the Big 8 (Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa State) formed the “Big 12 North”.

The conference’s current 10-campus makeup resulted from the 2010 to 2013 Big 12 Conference realignment, in which Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference, Colorado joined the Pac-12, and Missouri and Texas A&M joined the Southeastern Conference. Texas Christian University and West Virginia joined from the Mountain West and Big East Conferences respectively to offset two of the departing schools, bringing the conference to its current strength.

The current members of the Big 12 are University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, Baylor University, University of Kansas, West Virginia University, Oklahoma State University,, Texas Christian University, Kansas State University, Texas Tech University and Iowa State University.

The Big 12 Conference, like others involved in the realignment, has kept its name primarily for marketing purposes; the conference has high name recognition and remains one of the Power Five conferences which are considered the primary contenders to produce a College Football Playoff champion team in any given year. Attempts to rename the Big 12 to reflect its current strength would lead to confusion with the current Big Ten Conference (which currently has 14 teams). The Big 12 is also considered one of the Premier Seven Conferences in basketball.

Like the Southwest Conference, the Big 12 footprint has a small population base. It has the smallest population base by far of the contract conferences. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa have a combined population of 37.8 million.

Conference revenue comes mostly from television contracts, bowl games, the NCAA, merchandise, licensing and conference-hosted sporting events. The revenue for the Big 12 conference in 2015 was USD252 million.

In 2015 Iowa State University earnt USD66 million in revenue which was in line with the expenses for the same year. The average spend per student for the 2015 year was USD129,000.

Revenue includes ticket sales, contributions and donations, rights/licensing, student fees, school funds and all other sources including TV income, camp income, food and novelties. Total expenses includes coaching/staff, scholarships, buildings/ground, maintenance, utilities and rental fees and all other costs including recruiting, team travel, equipment and uniforms, conference dues and insurance costs. 


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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