Alumni reunite for golf and comradery


With homecoming weekend underway, former FHSU students were traipsing across Hays, getting ready for Saturday’s parade and football game and visiting Oktoberfest.

Thursday, though, a group of 168 alumni gathered at Smoky Hill Country Club to compete in the FHSU Alumni Association’s annual golf tournament.

“The alumni golf tournament has gone on for more than 30 years,” Megan Purinton said, “and it is a way to bring alumns to Hays who are here for Oktoberfest or are here for the homecoming events, and we enjoy having them golf for a day.”

Purinton is the FHSU Alumni Association’s Event Planner and is in her fourth year of planning the tournament.

Even after four years, she recognizes that the majority of the teams who participate in the tournament are regulars who come to see old friends.

In fact, the alumni so look forward to the tournament that tickets sell out within two weeks of registration. And when the day of the tournament arrives, they will play in any weather condition.

“We’ve played in extreme cold, and I think the 2019 tournament will be remembered by all because we played in freezing wind,” Purinton said. “It was about 30 degrees when everybody teed off in the morning, but the majority of our teams actually finished the day.”

This year, the tee-off was delayed by early-morning rain, but the teams eventually took to the greens.

Not only did alumni play the Smoky Hill Course, but six teams also went to the Fort to play the greens of Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course with FHSU Athletic Director Curtis Hammeke.

“So this is the first year we’re going to try that they’re all going to come here for coffee and donuts and drinks this morning, and then […] they will then travel over to the Fort,” Purinton said.

The teams who played at the Fort were those put on the waitlist. According to Purinton, the Alumni Association hated to turn the groups away and so came up with the alternate course.

With the conclusion of their play, the teams at the Fort were then welcome to rejoin the others at the country club for drinks and awards.

In addition to reuniting former FHSU students, the golf tournament also serves to assist future FHSU students.

The funds raised from the event go to the Post Rock Scholarship for area students to attend Fort Hays State. These funds come from the tickets as well as hole sponsorships by local businesses and individuals.

“And for their sponsorship fee, they then, in turn, get to keep their hole flag afterward,” Purinton said. “So all of the white flags that are around the golf course this year are the sponsorship flags that will then be turned over to the sponsor at the conclusion of the event.”

Though the tournament was for a good cause, the alumni most looked forward to renewing relationships with one another on the greens.

Tom Johansen, a graduate of 1980 and a current FHSU professor of finance, golfs in his spare time. To him, the tournament seems like a natural place to be.

“And I see a lot of friends, you know, that I went to school with and a lot of my former students, so it’s really nice to do that. That’s probably the main reason [I came], to see friends and students that are now friends,” Johansen said.

But he sees connections between people as an important part of the tournament and homecoming. For this reason, he encourages everybody to come back and participate.

Like Johansen, Roger Vanlandingham sees the impact of connections through the golf tournament. 

Vanlandingham, who graduated in 1984 with an agri-business degree, has participated in the tournament for the past 20 years because of the comradery he finds with other alumni. To him, the event is an opportunity to reunite former students.

“They’ll travel some distance to come to an event like this and participate,” he said. “It’s just a good opportunity to see some friends. And you’ll call some of your old buddies and maybe set up a golf team whereas, maybe, you wouldn’t necessarily have any other reason to get together.”

Sound Off!