Here’s how you can win tee times with college basketball legends at top 100 courses
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Lon Kruger is a master recruiter.
Simply put, Oklahoma’s 68-year-old head basketball coach knows how to attract talent. He’s coached In two Final Fours, boasts more than 600 career wins, and is the only coach in college basketball history to win NCAA Tournament games with five separate programs. With the Sooners, Kruger was responsible for the recruitment of star guard Trae Young. Under Kruger’s tutelage, Young earned consensus first-team All-American and national freshman of the year honors en route to becoming the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Yet despite his success on the hardwood, Lon Kruger might have a better record as a golf recruiter.
Kruger might have played basketball in his early years, but he’s always maintained a keen passion for golf. He grew up a Jack Nicklaus fan, and says today he sits “between a four and a five” handicap. Of course, he doesn’t have a problem finding a game whenever his schedule allows, but it’s not his weekly game that makes him college basketball’s most prolific golf organizer.
Every summer, he organizes the charity outing of the year — a three-day, 36-hole bonanza at Shadow Creek and Southern Highlands in Vegas to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer. The Las Vegas Classic, as it has since been named, began in 2008 as a way for Kruger to engage boosters and other donors for a good cause. In the 13 years since, it has ballooned into college basketball’s largest charity event, raising some $5 million for the fight against cancer.
“People come down to Vegas every year, it’s kind of become a reunion,” Kruger told GOLF.com. “We’ve got 60 foursomes and 25 coaches bring their boosters to Vegas and we meet up every year.”
But as any good recruiter knows, the job never stops, even if you’re guaranteed a blue-chipper. It’s for this reason that Kruger and more than 100 other prominent college hoops coaches and sports celebrities — from Jim Boeheim to Ken Griffey Jr. — have joined together for the charity auction opportunity of a lifetime. The auction, which runs until Black Friday (November 27), recruits fans to buy a series of typically priceless experiences.
It is called the Member for a Day auction, and it is selling a series of tee times at some of the golf world’s most elite courses with many of the biggest names in basketball.
“Golf is a great way to reach out and relate to your alumni, and certainly for fundraising opportunities like this,” Kruger said. “We’ve got a hundred coaches and celebrities and we’re auctioning them off for a round of golf at some terrific courses. Coaches around the country have done a great job of getting the word out and giving their time and efforts to make a difference.”
For you, that means the opportunity to work in a tee time at U.S. Open host Winged Foot alongside Iona coach Rick Pitino, don your finest plaid at Pinehurst No. 2 with North Carolina coach Roy Williams, or rip off your blazer and lock into a match with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim (who Kruger says may be college basketball’s best golfer). Many of the coaches are Hall-of-Famers, as are many of the courses — Colonial C.C., Olympia Fields, Oakland Hills, the Olympic Club and Yale Golf Club join Pinehurst and Winged Foot among the storied golf destinations available for auction. And those are just the opportunities available through the college coaches.
A slew of big-name celebrities with ties to the foundation are also auctioning experiences worth dreaming about through Member for a Day. Fans can bid to join Ken Griffey Jr. for a tee time at Michael Jordan’s brand-new, uber-exclusive club Grove XXIII or a trio of TV stars at their respective home courses: ESPN’s Jay Bilas at Charlotte Country Club, CBS’s Clark Kellogg at The Golf Club, and America’s favorite analyst (and former coach) Bill Raftery at Baltusrol.
If that’s not enough, you can join Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger at Shadow Creek in Vegas (or, if you’re a native Oklahoman, at Tulsa’s own Southern Hills). All the money goes toward the fight against cancer, which might just make one of these once-in-a-lifetime offers worth pulling the trigger on.
In short, the opportunities are endless, as are the opportunities for good.
“People understand that golf is a vehicle by which we’re doing something bigger and better,” Kruger said. “It’s good to see people get together in support of a really, really good cause.”
Fans who wish to bid on a Member for a Day foursome can click on the link here for more information.