Keeping up with the Jones: Two memorable rounds at Bondo Greens

By |  June 5, 2024 0 Comments

I live in a rural area in northeast Kansas. I’m not far from GCSAA headquarters in Lawrence — about 25 minutes southeast. We’ve got a lot of countryside views to enjoy out here and the stars are bright.

Last year I was driving to town just about a mile away from my house, when I saw a bunch of cars parking on a country road … and there were guys getting golf bags out of their cars. Intrigued, I slowed down and saw a sign that read “Bondo Greens.”

I didn’t have enough guts to pull down the road and ask what was going on, but I made a mental note to do a Google search when I got back home. That didn’t net me much info, but I did learn that this was an annual event, and I nabbed a mailing address.

I eventually wrote a letter to “Bondo Greens,” explaining a little bit about myself (Hi, I’m the editor of a magazine about taking care of golf courses! And I’m practically your neighbor …) That got me a call from Jim Bonderat, host of the tournament. He invited me to come out to see his land but warned that by then the golf course was mostly a hayfield.

I drove over and introduced myself. We chatted about golf, and he explained to me what Bondo Greens was. When his sons were in their early teens, they played a ton of golf. When they couldn’t get to the course, they used the yard. Eventually, Jim decided to mow some fairways and greens into his property and told the boys to invite their friends — the coveted Bondo Greens jacket was up for grabs.

Apparently, I passed the vetting process, because a few months later, I got the personal invitation to play in the tournament. The all-in meant 10 holes of night golf on Friday, play your own ball, and a 10-hole two-person scramble on Saturday. Golf was followed by a catered lunch by the local wing joint, whose charity they support, and the presentation of the Bondo Greens jackets.

I booked my kids for night golf and my golf buddy, Joe, for the scramble.

Photo: Golfdom staff

Photo: Golfdom staff

Tournament weekend arrived and the weather couldn’t have been better. That Friday was also the same evening that a solar eruption meant the Northern Lights might be viewable as far south as Kansas. I took my wife and kids, and we played glow-in-the-dark balls and fired away at illuminated flag sticks. We even caught a brief and faint view of the Northern Lights.

Saturday rolled around, and Joe and I were ready. We met our playing partners and this experience just kept getting better — whaddya know, a former superintendent was in our group. The daytime golf was a picturesque stroll through rolling hills where the buffalo once roamed.

Our playing partners were brothers Colby and Andrew Jones. Colby is the CFO for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, while Andrew is business development manager — golf for SiteOne Landscape Supply. Andrew, the former superintendent, met Jim’s son in college — they’re all Kansas Staters — and has been playing in the tournament ever since. As you might guess, the flagsticks were donated by Andrew years ago.

Andrew won the tournament when he was still in college. His win coincided with when the Bonderats moved, and Jim didn’t host the tournament for a few years. Andrew held on to the jacket for longer than expected. “That jacket made plenty of trips to Aggieville (K-State’s bar district),” Andrew said. Jim was shocked when he revived the tournament and Andrew returned the jacket, unscathed.

How cool is it that a group of high school buddies still meet up every spring in their friend’s dad’s driveway, to hit golf balls on farmland? What other sport delivers that?

When it was all wrapped up, the Jones brothers played like they’d done this before, finishing third.

Joe and I played like rookies, so the Bondo Greens jacket will not be making an appearance at Rick’s in Lawrence any time soon. But hopefully we get invited to play again, because this really was a field of dreams.

This article is tagged with , and posted in Columns, Current Issue, From the Magazine

About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.


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