It’s now officially a tradition.
For the second year in a row, more than two dozen former KU golfers, many of them teaching professionals today, got together for a one-day event to honor their late head coach, Ross Randall.
A total of 31 former Jayhawks competed Monday at the second annual Midwest PGA Ross Randall Shootout at Twin Oaks Golf Complex to honor Randall, who died in April 2017 after 28 years as KU’s men’s golf coach.
"I'm pretty emotional about this," Twin Oaks owner Jeff Burey said of hosting the event. "Ross was such a great friend. What a great golf professional and coach. It means a lot to honor him. I think Ross is looking down on us today and smiling. I'm real excited that we can do something and remember our buddy Ross."
Randall’s former pupils, most of whom came from the Topeka and Kansas City areas to compete, played the nine-hole, par-3 course just east of Lawrence early Monday morning, which allowed for a match-play bracketed tournament in the afternoon. Burey and Randy Towner, the general manager and head pro at Firekeeper Golf Course, ran the tournament. And Towner also emerged as the winner, defeating Brett Burgmeier, 1-up, in the championship match.
By 4 p.m. Monday, Burey had the Kirk Cup down at Mark’s Jewelers to be engraved, the final touch on a memorable day for so many.
"I think like any of the other KU guys here, it brings back some great memories," said Jeff Sheppard, who played for Randall from 1981-84. "Anytime we think of Ross we think of our four years or however long we were at the University and playing for the Jayhawks — the traveling, the fun stories and all the places we went to across the United States. The dinners at night and the stories. Ross was full of stories. The best part was traveling with buddies on the team and with coach, creating stories and listening to stories."
Added Rob Wilkin, who played for Randall in 1982 and 1983: “Playing in this is twofold. For one, it's Ross and his wife Linda who are huge parts of my life and everyone in my timeframe there. Then, I worked for Jeff Burey for seven years and he's a huge part, too. So it is two big figures in the shaping of my career.”
During his time at KU, which began in 1979, Randall guided seven KU teams to the NCAA Championships and 19 to NCAA Regionals. His 1989 squad was the first Kansas team to reach the NCAA Finals in 32 years, and his 1996 team advanced to the final two rounds of the NCAA Championships, the second-best finish in Kansas history.
Randall coached five All-Americans during his tenure with the Jayhawks, including three two-time All-American selections: Chris Thompson, Ryan Vermeer and Chris Marshall. He also helped develop 27 all-conference selections including 2007 graduate Gary Woodland, who is competing on the PGA Tour.