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June 18, 2014

OK Kids Korral Championship starts today at Belmar Golf Club

NORMAN — Today begins the OK Kids Korral Championship at Belmar Golf Club, which, yet again, is in immaculate condition, along with fantastic facilities, leaving the only concern about the place the slight worry that an excellent golf course will eventually be overrun by the neighborhood it created.

Of course, that’s not today’s story.

Today’s story is about what it’s really like out there and why you might want to check it out.

It’s hard to beat free, so there’s that. 

They’re playing for a $100,000 purse, which even these days is real money, and the quality of play is really, really strong because the world is full of terrific golfers and there’s only so much space on the tours of which we’re all familiar: PGA, Web.com and others that require playing overseas.

“The biggest problem is there’s so many golfers that can play at the Web.com and the PGA Tour level, that there’s not enough room for us all,” says Kevin Penner, a second-year pro who makes his home in Seattle, and who last spring finished up a fairly stellar collegiate career at UNLV. “So we have to play elsewhere and work our way up, sort of from the ground up.”

The thing about Penner?

In context, he’s doing great. Just don’t ask him if he’s doing great.

“No,” he says. “Not at all.”

It is the nature or mini-tour life, where players are in a race with themselves. The object is to make it before running out of money. It could be their money, family money, sponsorship money, money provided by benefactors who simply want a horse in the race, whatever. 

Few have a never-ending supply, entry fees run in excess of $1,000, you’ve got to get from one tournament to the next, lodging usually comes at a price (sometimes players are hosted) and you’ve got to eat.

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