Tee Times Golf Guide
Writer – Ann E. Butenas
October 2022 issue – Tee Times Golf Guide
Wee Links at Heritage Park
“I’m all in.” Whenever you hear those words from someone who is supportive of an impactful project you are undertaking, your confidence levels soar to new heights. When you are a PGA professional and have created a wonderful new initiative for the game of golf and Tom Watson says this about your endeavor, you know you have landed on something special. That something special is Wee Links, a six-hole, par 18 golf course with 15-foot diameter greens and holes ranging from 14 to 30 yards in length and covering between one and one-and-a-half acres. Absent of bunkers, water, and other hazards, a player can complete six holes in just about 15 minutes. It is the ideal place to learn the game of golf – no matter your age - or simply improve your current game.
Understanding Wee Links – How It’s Established and Its Inherent Benefits
The brainchild of Midwest Section member Jeff Burey, Wee Links is designed for an approachable, non-intimidating, and easy introduction to the game of golf. It is also a terrific social activity for youth and families. As owner of J.F. Burey Golf Professional & Consultant, LLC, Burey is responsible for the construction aspects and operation of each Wee Links course and has commenced construction of the inaugural one at Heritage Park Golf Course. (Burey did, however, initially build one at Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora, Kansas, but this is the first one in Johnson County.)
Among the financial supporters of this initiative include the Midwest Section PGA Foundation, which has donated $20,000; Tom Watson and the Tom Watson Supporting Foundation; and other private individuals. Further, the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District has been completely on board and wholly supportive of what promises to expand exponentially to other courses in the coming years.
“It’s a springboard to get more kids on the golf course,” noted Watson, whose goal throughout his professional life has been to create lifetime golfers, as evidenced through some of his projects such as First Tee and Watson Youth Mentors.
Burey is honored to have Watson involved with this project, but Watson takes his participation in stride.
“Jeff is doing all the work,” Watson indicated. “My involvement is from the sidelines, and we both want to create more Wee Links around town and get kids on the golf course.”
“Wee Links offer a great way to learn golf and practice strokes,” emphasized Burey. “When a player realizes success on the Wee Links course, it instills confidence and increases motivation in the golfer, no matter the age. Not only do they have fun with the game, but they are motivated to improve.”
Establishing a Wee Links requires commitment and buy-in from multiple parties.
“It is essential the entity, the golf course manager and staff, the professional staff, and the financial supporters all have a common goal,” explained Burey, who sees this as a wonderful complement to the bigger game of golf, as a Wee Links player will experience all ranges of emotions just as one would playing regulation golf.
“The thrills as well as the challenges are all a part of the Wee Links golf experience,” emphasized Bury, who likens Wee Links to playing golf in a micro manner. “Basic rules, etiquette, and formats are easily taught. Wee Links brings the golf vocabulary – par, birdie, bogey, tee, divot, etc. - to life.”
Burey emphasized the benefits of having a Wee Links at a golf course are many. Plus, a Wee Links course can be added for a small cost or perhaps no cost at all. The cost to maintain the course is minimal and playing the course doesn’t require much time at all. It is also a great adjunct to existing junior programs.
Burey is known for his great accomplishments within the game of golf, most notably from a standpoint of giving.
“I just want to grow the game and give back to something that has given so much to me,” expressed Burey, who has always promoted golf and junior golf throughout his stellar career. A member of the Midwest PGA Section Hall of Fame, past Golf Professional of the Year, three-time Golf Merchandiser of the Year and recent inductee into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame, Burey has traveled through his career with a servant’s heart. “I’ve been blessed and want to pay it forward.”
Hence, his enthusiasm for creating Wee Links and watching it expand exponentially, not only across the city but one day perhaps across the country. For now, however, his sights are focused on this Heritage Park project. Fortunately, he has a village of support behind him.
Community and Peer Support
As Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses in Johnson County, Bill Maason is very excited about Wee Links and the positive impact it will have for the community.
“This is great for group activities, after school activities, and so much more,” he noted. “It will do tremendous things to grow the game and get more folks involved. The hope is that this Wee Links facility at Heritage Park will be a model for others to build and introduce golf to younger members of our population. Of course, it is also exciting to have Tom Watson involved.”
Rob Wilkins, Operations Manager at Heritage Park, is equally enthusiastic about the project.
“With Tom and Jeff behind it, we just think it’s a wonderful amenity to add to our facility and we’re excited about it,” he said. “We are looking forward to a May 2023 opening to see how it goes and hope to run some programming through there. I think it’s great for youth golf, beginner golf, and the overall enjoyment of golf in the greater Kansas City area.”
Ethan Shamet, Heritage Park Golf Course Superintendent, stands alongside his peers with equal enthusiasm and optimism.
“Wee Links is good for the golf course and for growing the game and getting more kids involved and playing the game,” he expressed.
The Midwest Section PGA and its Foundation also proudly stands with Burey. Brad Demo, Executive Director/CEO of the Section, praised Burey for his selfless acts of kindness and his creative thinking that has been so instrumental in promoting golf throughout the region.
“Jeff is an angel and the king of thinking,” expressed Demo. “As a Foundation, we couldn’t be happier, and we’re thrilled to be a major part of it. It fits our philosophy of impacting lives through golf.”
When you teach a child to play golf, you are not only a hero to that child, but a champion of the game.” (Kris Wilson)
“Depending on anticipated usage and having a fun experience, the sky is the limit with Wee Links,” smiled Burey, whose enthusiasm not only for the game but for introducing individuals of all ages to this sport of a lifetime, never diminishes.
The Boston Globe
A New Englander's Take on Golf
October 19, 2022
When you have an idea, as Jeff Burey (right) does and you tickle the fancy of Tom Watson (left), well, you know you're on to something.
Looking big picture, Jeff Burey suggests that the answer is short
Jim McCabe | October 19, 2022
Long story short.
Therein lies the gist of Jeff Burey’s pitch to ease youngsters into the game and to provide golf with a possible answer to a dilemma that is very real. And should you be skeptical about a set of six holes that are each about 30 yards in length with cups that are 6 inches in diameter (1.75 inches wider than the regulation cup), let us turn to an esteemed member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Ben Crenshaw has told the story countless times, how when he first went to Harvey Penick, the legendary instructor gave him a 7-iron and a blade putter. “You chip this ball up on green,” said Penick, “then you putt it in the hole and you’re playing golf. That’s golf.”
A nod of the head from another corner of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “It’s a very profound lesson,” said Tom Watson. “It is playing golf in the truest sense of the game.”
When icons named Watson and Crenshaw are supportive of Burey’s pet project he calls “Wee Links,” then there is considerable reason to think that it is a better entry point than putting young children on a tee and telling them that five or six shots should get them near the green – just beware bunkers and water.
“‘Wee Links’ has all the emotions you expect in golf, but on a smaller scale,” said Burey. “But you want young children to get the ball in the hole with the lowest score possible,” and to accentuate that point, Burey talks of a scene that unfolded in front him and his friend, the renowned eight-time major winner.
They were at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora, Kan., where Burey owns a Par 3 Course, a driving range, and a “Wee Links.” Watson spoke with some youngsters who were trying to do as Penick had suggested to Crenshaw decades earlier – chip it up, putt it in – and when one of the kids did just that, there was great joy. “Jeff,” said Watson, pointing to the youngster, “he’ll never forget that.”
Each man, in his own way, is a legend in golf. Watson globally, of course, but in Kansas circles, and especially in Johnson County where they both live, they surely don’t need introductions. Just a few weeks ago, Burey was inducted into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame, a lifetime member of the PGA who has forged an impressive trail.
A native of Norwalk, Conn., Burey has worked at an impressive array of clubs – Wee Burn in Darien, Conn.; John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla.; a quaint little place in the North Carolina called Pinehurst; then a pair of gems in Kansas – Wolf Creek and Prairie Dunes.
To rattle off those names is to understand how Burey came up with the title of a book he decided to write. “Blessed! Stories in the Life of a Golf Professional” is a tribute to the memories and the mentors – Mike Krak and Roy Pace at Wee Burn and Lou Miller at John’s Island, and Pinehurst.
When retirement beckoned, Burey felt the burning desire to stay involved. There was his involvement in SNAG – “Starting New at Golf” – where 300,000 young school students had it as part of their physical education curriculum. When he took over Twin Oaks and worked with David Axland – an acclaimed shaper with Coore & Crenshaw – to do a “Wee Links,” it was as if Burey, now 73, was rejuvenated.
“I’m so motivated because this is exciting,” said Burey, who added that another “Wee Links” is coming to Heritage Park GC in Johnson County “and we have hopes of building 11 of them in the Kansas City area.”
Not to digress, but if there is anyone who can appreciate the greatness in small packages, it is Burey. As a member of the Norwalk (Conn.) High School state basketball championship team in 1966 he got to watch game-after-game a 5-foot-9-inch phenomenon, teammate Calvin Murphy, who averaged 40.1 ppg that season.
Hoops aside, “I always knew that I was going to have a career in golf,” said Burey, who has had a brilliant one. Being head professional at Pinehurst when he was just 27 years old rates as a notable achievement, certainly, but what defines him is the enthusiasm with which he is tackling this latest project.
“But he’s always been that way,” said Watson. “He’s always been passionate.”
To explain the vision of “Wee Links,” Burey tells people what it’s not. “It’s not pitch ‘n putt, it’s not mini golf, it’s not an executive course. It’s ‘Wee Links.’”
There is no trademark for the name – there are other facilities in the country called Wee Links – but Burey’s brand has six holes, each with “fairways” and “rough” leading to a double green.
Twin Oaks is a total of 152 yards, so holes are an average of 25 yards and the idea is as simple as simple can get. Pitch your shot onto the green, then putt. Cups are larger, flagsticks are 5 feet, “there are no hazards, no bunkers,” said Burey, “but it allows kids to do what Tom (Watson) says is important. ‘Let them play golf, not hit golf balls.’”
Burey, backed by Watson, has done a wonderful job pitching the simplicity of the idea to clubs in the Kansas City area. “We only need one acre, maybe an acre-and-a-quarter and it can be built for about $38,000, especially when there’s already irrigation,” said Burey, who is encouraged that clubs see this as an amenity for members and golfers.
Because remember, this vision is for 5- and 6- and 7-year-old kids. It’s not daunting. It’s the voice of Harvey Penick telling Ben Crenshaw: “You chip this ball up on green, then you putt it in the hole and you’re playing golf. That’s golf.”
Simple stuff that has been forgotten by so many in the game. But fortunately, not by Burey.
I have a passion for playing golf that is surpassed only by my passion for writing about people who have a passion for playing golf, for working in golf, for living their lives around golf. Chasing the best professional golfers around the world for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and the PGA Tour for more than 20 years was a blessing for which I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been left with precious memories of golf at its very best, but here is a takeaway that rates even more valuable – the game belongs to everyone who loves it. “Power Fades” is a weekly tribute with that in mind, a digital production to celebrate a game that many of us love. If you share a passion for golf, sign up down below for a free subscription and join the ride. And should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, feel free to pass them along.
Cheers, Jim McCabe
Planting seeds: Class helps break in Red Bridge Wee Links at Twin Oaks Golf Complex
JUL 15, 2018 - 5:00PM
Youth golfers in The First Tee of Greater Kansas City program prepare to play a round on the Red Bridge Wee Links on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
EUDORA — Saturday’s golf lesson at Twin Oaks Golf Complex that was put on by The First Tee of Greater Kansas City had a different excitement to that of previous ones in the summer session.
The 13 youth golfers who participated in the lesson got the chance to test out the Red Bridge Wee Links — which is a new six-hole, 145-yard course — that opened on July 4 to replace the old artificial greens putt-putt course. Although there have been a few rounds played on the new addition to the Eudora complex over the past week and a half, the lesson for The First Tee class marked the first event that was held on the Red Bridge Wee Links.
“It was tremendous fun because it was a dream to build the Red Bridge Wee Links. Now having it there, it’s really exceeded what my expectations were,” Jeff Burey, a PGA professional and Twin Oaks Golf Complex owner, said. “The kids just really love it. They’re going to become really, really good players because of being able to master their short game.”
Prior to the kids getting their first crack on the new course, Burey and First Tee lead instructor Robert Sweeney briefly explained to them the process of creating the Red Bridge Wee Links. Rather than going into detail on how the irrigation system was put in or how the course was sodded, Sweeney stuck with a simple message that hit home with the kids.
“Every golf course begins by planting seeds. With those seeds, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Sweeney said at the beginning of the class. “You just hope that something is going to happen. The kind of seeds you put down really makes a difference. Jeff did a lot of research and he has a lifetime of experience, so he figured out what the best seeds are for a project like this.”
George Conover hits a tee shot on the second hole of the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
Sweeney saw several parallels with how the Red Bridge Wee Links came to fruition and how the youth golfers have been picking up ins and outs of the game.
“I’m really pleased with this new addition to the course. I think with learning the game of golf and teaching the game of golf that the concept of target awareness and distance control are such fundamental aspects of learning the game,” Sweeney said. “When you can shrink the course and make it manageable, you get the same effects of golf on a large course, but it’s attainable. I think it sets up an encouraging experience for the kids and I think that’s the most important thing is that they come away and they don’t feel overwhelmed and defeated.”
Charity Thompson was one of the youth golfers who got the chance to test out of the new course on Saturday. During the introduction of the class, Thompson showed off her medal from a recent drive, chip and putt competition she competed in. Thompson already had a grasp of Sweeney’s planting-the-seed concept from the drive, chip and putt competition since she thrived in two parts of it, but still had some work to do in order to get to her next goal.
“I’m getting really good. At the tournament, I got second place in driving and third place in chipping,” Thompson said. “You have to be in the top three to move on, but I finished in fourth place and missed it by one.”
Thompson was paired up with George Conover for The First Tee class’s round on the Red Bridge Wee Links. The highlight of Conover’s round was recording a birdie.
Joshua Barkus hits a putt on the first hole of the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
“I really liked it just because it was challenging even though it was so short,” Conover said. “It’s hard to control it and make it go on those small greens.”
Tyce Bruns watched his son, Grady Bruns, hit the links with his First Tee classmates on Saturday. Tyce had nothing but rave reviews about the Red Bridge Wee Links and Twin Oaks in general, and had plenty of praise for how Burey and Sweeney have developed Grady’s golf game.
“It’s a great atmosphere for families and for kids just to get out and learn the game of golf. It’s great,” Tyce said. “I could leave him out here for four hours and he’d be fine with it. It’s wonderful.”
Tyce added, “We hadn’t had any exposure to any type of golf lessons, golf tournaments or anything organized, and Jeff is just great with kids. When we came out here the first time, we knew he was a pretty special guy and we took lessons. He’s amazing and he’s taken my kid to the next level, so it’s wonderful here.”
Burey lent a helping hand to the kids on a few practice shots before stepping back and smiling while they hit for themselves. Patience is a trait that Burey has emphasized a lot during lessons over the years. The golf pro admitted that he has needed to preach some patience to himself while watching the seeds on the Red Bridge Wee Links grow.
Grady Bruns hits a tee shot on the second hole of the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
“The main thing is for it to mature because it’s brand new and it’s in a rough state right now with all of this heat. In the long range, it would be great for birthday parties, family outings, little pee-wee and junior tournaments or this First Tee program,” Burey said. “It’s kind of unlimited. We do a family pass program where the family can play. At this day and age, there aren’t a whole lot of things that the family can do together. They can come out and play this. This by definition is real miniature golf — golf at a miniature scale, not putt-putt. It’s miniature golf.”
Jackson Ferguson follows through on a putt on the first hole of the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
Zahara Ness celebrates after sinking a putt on the first hole on the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
Steven Luffman hits his tee shot on the second hole of the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
Drew Goldsberry taps in a putt on the second hole of the Red Bridge Wee Links course on Saturday at the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora.
Basketball and instant replay are two of the bigger contributions to sports that can be traced to Canada.
By Tom Keegan
Dr. James E. Naismith, inventor of basketball, was born in Canada. So was instant replay. It made its debut during a 1955 Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC Television.
Now is the time to unveil a third game-changer from Canada, this one involving golf, and imported here by Texan Joe Giles, a former Lawrence Country Club member who spent a few years working and golfing in Toronto.
One day on the 19th hole at a Toronto club, Giles talked about one of his shots from the round and was about to relive another when he abruptly was warned to stop talking, even if that meant switching to his favorite subject, Texas A&M football. The rule at that club, Giles was informed, was that you could only mention one shot from your round. The penalty for breaking the rule: You must buy a round of drinks.
So if you double hit a chip, as T.C. Chen famously did in the 1985 U.S. Open, careful. Don’t talk about it or it’ll cost you.
The one-shot rule — there is no such 19th-hole limit on short drinks — is bound to be adopted at all golf courses worldwide in short order. After all, few things in life are as frustrating as listening to someone else prattle on about his shots when I want to talk about mine. It also creates the challenge of picking just one shot about which to boast, not as tough a choice for some as others.
So if you’ll indulge me, I have one just shot from my most recent round to discuss.
The last words out of my playing partner’s mouth were, “Ace it.”
So I took my sand wedge back halfway, hinged, came through smoothly, heard that perfect click and then that equally beautiful sound of a soft landing. One more bounce and into the cup it went.
Ask for an ace and an ace you shall receive. And it came on the longest hole on the course, No. 4. Never mind that it was just 35 yards in length or that the orange ball dropped into a 6-inch cup instead of the regulation 4-1/4-inches. It still felt good.
The course: Red Bridge Wee Links, the latest addition to the Twin Oaks Golf Complex in Eudora, which also has a driving range and a nine-hole, par-3 course. It's a great place for novices to gain confidence.
Red Bridge Wee Links is a six-hole course designed by world-famous golf architect Dave Axland, who has worked on renovation projects at prestigious courses such as Riviera Country Club, Prairie Dunes and SandHills Golf Club and countless others.
As a favor to golf missionary and old friend Jeff Burey, proprietor of Twin Oaks, and as a means of growing the game by getting more young children involved, Axland donated his time and touch to the project. Local businessmen in the construction industry donated time and equipment as well.
The course, which takes about as long to play as one hole does on a championship course, 12 minutes or so, is a scaled-down version of an actual golf track, replete with features that genuflect to the sport’s rich history. Such as: the double green shared by Hole Nos. 2 and 5, a nod to the Old Course at St. Andrews, the oldest course in the world.
A giant rock pile with weeds growing out of it, left of the fourth fairway, just shy of the green, is a reminder that courses used to incorporate rock piles into the layout because it was easier than hauling away the rocks they removed to sculpt fairways and greens. The River Birch tree behind No. 1 green lends a nice touch as well.
No. 3 offers a closer tee for the youngest of the young players who don’t yet have the confidence to clear the stream that runs under the course's trademark, a red bridge.
Most of the Zoysia grass greens have a hint of turtleback, making them tough to hold.
Anything new comes with unintended consequences, and not all of those are bad. Red Bridge Wee Links is drawing beginners, as intended, as well as serious golfers looking to refine their short games by pitching and chipping short distances to small greens.
How serious a golfer?
A recently minted PGA Tour pro even spent three hours one day last month practicing on Red Bridge Wee Links. It certainly didn’t hurt Chris Thompson, who finished his Web.com Tour season well enough to earn a PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 schedule.
“The game is back,” Burey beamed Saturday, his enthusiasm not doused even a little from the 97-degree heat. “The game is back. There are so many good things going on.”
A nickel tour with a $5 round
By Seth Jones | November 12, 2018
My father-in-law recently visited my family here in northeast Kansas. He lives in south Texas (McAllen), so he doesn’t get up this way too often.
I gave him the Seth Jones nickel tour of Lawrence. He’s a fellow Kansas University alumnus, but a lot has changed around town since the days Gale Sayers was running the football for the Jayhawks. Stops included Allen Fieldhouse, home of the original rules of “basket ball,” typed by Dr. James Naismith himself; West Coast Saloon, maker of the best cheeseburger in Lawrence; and Rick’s Place, my bar of choice since the day I turned 21.
It’s the same tour I’ve been giving visitors over the last 20-plus years I’ve lived here, plus or minus a few places, and in my biased opinion it’s pretty solid. Alan from McAllen enjoyed it. It’s nothing too sophisticated, I’m not really the art museum kind of host, but if that’s your thing I can point you in the right direction. You can meet me at Rick’s when you’re done.
My nickel tour soon will be growing by one stop, a golf facility visit right down the road from our small town of Eudora. I’ve got some great golf courses nearby, definitely, but time is money, and this humble little course only takes 15 minutes to play for the price of $5.
The Red Bridge Wee Links at Twin Oaks Golf Complex opened for play this summer. It’s a six-hole short course meant for kids, beginners or folks looking to knock the ball around in a quick and easy format. The length of the entire course is 152 yards and can be played in about 15 minutes. The longest hole is 33 yards, the shortest, 14.
The course was designed and constructed by David Axland and Twin Oaks owner Jeff Burey. Axland, a Kansas native and old friend of Burey’s, has done shaping and renovation work at courses like Riviera, Prairie Dunes, Friar’s Head and Sand Hills.
Twin Oaks comprises a driving range, a par-3 course, and now this short course. Before the Red Bridge Wee Links was there, Burey had a rundown putt-putt course on the acre of land next to his clubhouse. Burey ripped all that out and, with donated time and supplies, built the Red Bridge Wee Links for $10,000. He likes to joke that he took his lemon and made lemonade.
Kids can play the course with a golf ball, a low-flight soft ball or a SNAG ball. The greens have 6-inch cups and are Meyer zoysiagrass. Burey can mow the whole course in 45 minutes.
Burey is bullish on the activity the course saw this season. It’s mostly been kids getting in some actual golf after their lessons, but he’s also hosted a college golf class there, families and adults working on their short game.
“Throughout my career, and spending a little time with Tom Watson this year, we always talk about how we can get kids from the practice range on to the actual golf course,” Burey told me. “Lots of kids do clinics and camps, but they don’t always get on the course. This is beginner friendly and allows the 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds to learn the game.”
I took my 7-year-old son out for a quick round on the Red Bridge Wee Links. He also likes the par-3 course and he likes hitting range balls… but he told me this new course was his favorite part of the facility. Why? “Because it’s easy.”
Golf and easy are two words I rarely use in the same sentence, but I would agree. It’s the first time I’ve ever shot even par, that’s for sure. We played it twice and it made for a quick and pleasant hour — yes, hour — at the golf course.
It’s not traditional golf, but it’s the right amount to fit into the nickel tour.