Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2003

A green with a river view: Bigger thinks his course better

June 19, 2003

Two women -- one from Olathe and the other from Kansas City -- were scheduled to meet a third at Eudora Riverview Golf Course. When they arrived in Eudora recently they stopped to ask for directions. The ladies were shocked to hear that the golf course had burned down. The person they asked swore on her life there was no golf course north of Eudora.

There is. It is a 5,305-yard par 72 located on North 1500 Road.

Although it appears residents of Eudora aren't so sure, just ask Jim Bigger whether it exists. He should know: He created it and calls it home.

"Are we invisible?" said the frustrated entrepreneur. "I don't know why people don't know we're here."

On a recent business day 23 golfers teed-off without a Eudora citizen among them.

The golf course was indeed devastated by fire, but that was in January 1999. Bigger, though, has resurrected the house lost to the fire and resurrected his dream.

"I built this golf course as a recreational outlet," explained Bigger. "People build courses now to build houses and clubhouses. Ninety percent of golfers play bogey golf or worse, so why are people making courses that are tougher?"

The courses that Bigger refers to are a far cry from Riverview. He uses an analogy contrasting Chiefs and Royals games.

"It's two totally different types of people," Bigger said. "They bring out different things in different people."

For those golfers who are used to dining at the Stadium Club at Kauffman Stadium they may liken the conditions of Riverview to a brat and beer tailgate at Arrowhead Stadium. But that's exactly what it is supposed to be, Bigger said.

Riverview is the ultimate blue-collar course. Its fairways may be less than luxurious, but Bigger is trying to give the game back to the people.

A pressure-free environment is the catalyst of the course's constitution.

"A lot of people feel intimidated by a course like Alvamar," Bigger said, referring to Lawrence's popular links. "We get a lot of couples. The wife doesn't feel pressured.

"Your first few times playing golf you stink. Come out here. If the ball goes three fairways over, then go over and hit it back. If it takes 10 strokes, it takes 10 strokes."

At the laid-back golf course, there are no tee-times, no marshals, no PGA pros and no pro shop. In their stead is an anything goes attitude focused on recreation and fun.

You can even bring your own beer.

There is no dress code, although Bigger contemplated a sign out front that said, "You can't play if you have Izod on your shirt." But players who make the mistake of wearing an Izod shirt can always take it off. At Riverview, no shirt is no problem.

Riverview is the host of a tournament scheduled for the July 4. two-person teams will play six holes of best-ball, six of alternating shots and the final six as a scramble. The unique format fits this unique course.

At Riverview, green fees include unlimited golf, and Bigger said the record belonged to a couple of men who played 54 holes in one day.

Maybe Bigger is better, but just because he built it doesn't mean they will come -- but he hopes they do.

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