A family enjoys a round of golf at the Ken Lanning Golf Center in Jefferson City

A family enjoys a round of golf at the Ken Lanning Golf Center in Jefferson City

Golfers, you’ve heard the phrase “Drive for show, putt for dough.”  Your game and score is made from within 100 yards of the pin.  If you can’t pitch and putt consistently, you’ll be a hack like me battling to keep your score in the 90’s.

Before you decide to head to the range to work out your kinks, consider the Ken Lanning Golf Center, located at Turkey Creek Golf Center in Jefferson City, just north of the Missouri River Bridge.  It’s a 9-hole par-three course that is flat with limited hazards and it allows you the opportunity to hit clean shots while working on your game from no further than 120 yards out.  Consider this–for the price of a couple of buckets of balls, you can loop the course as many times as you like.

What really makes this golf course unique is that even though golf enthusiasts can enjoy the course, that wasn’t the true reason of why this course was designed.

The Ken Lanning Golf Center is first and foremost, an accessible golf course for people with special needs.  Scott Hovis, the Executive Director of the Missouri Golf Association, believes this the first course of it’s kind in the United States.

The course was designed specifically to meet individuals’ unique needs. The course allows players to walk or use wheelchairs not only on cart paths, but on field-turf greens which makes any golf shot accessible for every player.

Here’s the real kicker…The course if free for active military, veterans, anyone with special needs, and children under the age of 15.

“They’re (military vets) excited about a place they can come and have some fun with each other.  The kids love it because it’s easy to get around and they can play as many times as they want–it’s fast paced,” said Hovis.

This past weekend, the course held it’s first event with the Central Missouri Down Syndrome Association.  Equipment was provided and each participant had a golf buddy along with a day of instruction which included driving, chipping and putting.  The Lanning Golf Center also recently had one of it’s four lakes stocked with fish, courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Participants also turned in their clubs for poles.

“This golf course is open to anyone, it was built specifically for a few groups in mind.  It’s open for the public to play.  We want everyone to come and enjoy the facility.”

Ken Lanning Mission
To provide children and individuals with disabilities the opportunity to learn and enjoy the game of golf by providing them a course designed specifically to meet their unique needs.

I sat down with Junior Golf Foundation Director, Jon Sundvold, and he shares the vision for this course.

Course Concept
-One of the first of its kind
-9 hole course, each hole a par 3
-No hole longer than 120 yards from the back tee
-Limited number of hazards
-Built on flat land with cart paths around entire course
-Allows players to walk or use wheelchairs (motorized or non-motorized)
-Cart paths around entire course
-Cart use is necessary for players who need assistance
-Greens made of field turf
-Durable, easy to maintain and allows for wheelchair access to the green
-Greens will have wheelchair accessible ramps/paths

Rodney Hughes, a military veteran, gives his assessment of the course.

-Open a door for people with disabilities that may have never been opened before
-Help foster an appreciation and respect for one of the oldest sports known to man
-Teach not only the basic fundamentals of the game, but golf etiquette as well
-People say that golf is a lifetime sport, this unique course will make that a reality!
-To provide in-school and/or after school camps and clinics
-A safe place for youth to occupy their time while learning golf and life skills