CPT: A summer home for collegians

Bo Van Pelt

If you’re among the top college players, or even play for one of the top-tier college programs, you pretty much have a choice of where to play during the summer amateur season.

Plenty of tournaments are available for that caliber of player. Some events are more exclusive than others, but the bottom line is that from early June through mid-August, opportunities abound.

But what if you’re not considered one of these players? If you play for a smaller, lesser-known NCAA Division I school, or a program in Division II, III, NAIA or junior college?

Yes, there is another avenue you can take. You can play the Collegiate Players Tour. While many may not be familiar with it, the CPT has been around for 19 years, providing college players – men and women – an opportunity to compete on quality golf courses at an affordable price.

“I always felt there were limited opportunities for the majority of college kids in summer golf,” said Barry Rodenhaver, who founded the CPT in 1994 and has run it ever since. “Only a small percentage of college players get invited to the big amateur events, while probably around 99 percent don’t have much to play in.

“The CPT is filling a niche for a lot of kids in all the college divisions. It’s pretty much for players who want to compete in the summer, but can’t get into those big amateur tournaments.”

Still, over the years, the CPT has been a launching pad for a good share of players who have gone on to bigger and better things in the professional ranks.

Among those who have played the CPT during their college days: Ben Curtis, Bo Van Pelt, John Rollins, Hank Kuehne, D.J. Brigman, Scott Piercy, Jimmy Walker and Colt Knost.

The tour runs from the first week in June through the second week in August, with 10 tournaments on this year’s schedule. Four events already have been staged, including stops in the Houston, Los Angeles, Dayton (Ohio) and Philadelphia areas.

Upcoming stops are in Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas, with the season-ending CPT National Championship to be held Aug. 6-9 at Texas Star Golf Club in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Entry fee is $100 for each event and includes a practice round, 54 holes of tournament play, lunch, a dinner and range balls.

“And all are run in a very professional manner,” Rodenhaver said. “We really try to make the players feel like they are special. We want to give them an experience they will remember.”

For the 70-year-old Rodenhaver, college golf has been a labor of love for much of his life.

He first was an assistant men’s coach at the University of Maryland before replacing Rod Myers as Terrapins associate coach in 1966. He remained there until August 1969, then coached Odessa (Texas) College for 18 years. From there, he became head coach at SMU for seven years, leaving that post in January 1994.

College golf – or to be more precise, college golfers – always has been his top priority. In January 1994, he announced at the Golf Coaches Association of America convention his intention to start the Collegiate Players Tour, and that June, it became a reality.

The tour has been going strong since.

State Farm Insurance signed on to be the tour’s title sponsor 13 years ago, helping not only financially, but through an abundance of support from company agencies at every tournament stop.

“Without State Farm, the CPT could not function,” Rodenhaver said. “In addition to being our title sponsor, we are able to get other sponsorships from various State Farm vendors.

“No question, State Farm Insurance is the backbone of this tour,” Rodenhaver said. “The people there believe in young people and believe in what we’re doing.”

One of the most amazing things the CPT does is give back to local communities and designated charities, such as First Tee programs, Boys & Girls Clubs, Crime Fighters groups and the Folds of Honor.

Since State Farm signed on with the CPT, the combination has donated – are you ready for this? – nearly $2 million to local charities.

“That’s a lot of money, and it’s something I’m very proud of,” Rodenhaver said. “I think it’s one of the driving forces for those who work for State Farm to get behind our events in their area.”

Talk about making an impact. I, for one, am overly impressed with that fact, especially with coming from a tour of which many are unaware.

The lack of recognition is something Rodenhaver continues to battle.

“The hardest part is to get coaches to give me players' names and emails so I can contact them,” Rodenhaver said. “That’s the No. 1 problem, getting coaches to help get me their rosters and to get them to promote and support what we’re doing. The coaches are the key to getting the word out about the CPT and encouraging their players to at least take a look at us.”

For those interested, visit collegiateplayerstour.com or give the CPT office a call at 214-369-8301. If you’re a college golfer seeking a place to play this summer, the CPT might be just what you’re looking for.

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