Kansas Golf Hall of Fame
The Kansas Golf Foundation has selected two Kansans for induction into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame, Class of 2012. Tom Devlin, of Augusta, and Bill Toalson, of Prairie Village, will join 36 men and women previously honored for their accomplishments and contributions to the game of golf.
Devlin and Toalson will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in separate ceremonies later this month. Devlin’s is set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Broadview Hotel in Wichita. Toalson’s is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills.
Information about tickets to the induction ceremonies and banquets may be obtained from Kansas Golf Foundation Executive Director Phil Miller (785 842-4833 ext. 205, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Kansas Golf Foundation, formed in 1991, has as its Mission to “Promote the Future and Preserve the History of Golf in Kansas.” In addition to operating the Hall of Fame, the Foundation provides college scholarships for junior golfers.
More information about the Foundation is available at www.kansasgolf.org.
Thomas R. Devlin
Often times, crisply struck golf shots, under-par rounds and trophy-clutching moments are what get a person into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame. But justifiably, it’s what gets done behind the scenes to make this great game better that gets others their enshrinement. Wichita’s Tom Devlin fits comfortably into the second group.
“Tom will never go into golf history books as one of our top players, but will certainly be at the top of any list of champions for contributions and sacrifices to the betterment of golf for us all,” wrote former Kansas Golf Association President Gary Conover in a letter of recommendation for Devlin.
Devlin has devoted his time, effort and money to promote golfing excellence in Kansas. He is the developer of the highly-regarded Flint Hills National Golf Club and was instrumental in bringing national championships to Kansas, including the U.S. Senior Amateur (2007), U.S. Women’s Amateur (2001) and the Trans-Mississippi Championship (2003, 2009).
“I’m really proud that my peers would think enough of me to want me in the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame,” Devlin says. “Because it’s wonderful to think that (the panel) wanted me and voted me in. There have been plenty of people who were better golfers and better at many things than me. I can’t tell you how humble I am to be invited.”
Devlin’s introduction to golf came while caddying for his mother, an accomplished player in her own right. His father was a talented player and his uncle was a golf professional before World War II, further enhancing Devlin’s “golf genes.”
“My father was a scratch player. My mother was a scratch player,” he says. “My father’s brother played some tours back in the ‘30s with Hogan and Snead and those guys. My mom won in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Kansas. My brothers and I would caddy for her and my dad on Sundays when they would have these great matches.”
But Devlin came from humble golf roots, make no mistake about that. He says his uncle, a member at Westchester Country Club, would send his old clubs west when he purchased new ones. And Devlin and his brothers had a “covert” way of obtaining golf balls.
“…my mother actually played with men’s clubs, because she couldn’t afford to buy new clubs. And she was a great golfer,” Devlin recalls. “My brothers and I would to MacDonald Park at night and sneak in to find golf balls in the lakes and the creeks and that’s how we got golf balls for my mother and us. But she could play with the same ball until she wore off the number.”
Devlin, who attended Wichita State University, would go on to a wildly successful business career and would be able to purchase his own golf balls. He also became affiliated with several leading golf clubs and is partner in Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey, Calif. He serves as a director for the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association and his involvement in the game at the amateur level has been a boon to those in the Sunflower State.
“I think the most important thing in life is integrity…golf teaches you if that ball moves you’ve got to call it on yourself,” he says. “But for me, amateur golf, not doing it for a living, but because you have a passion, because you love it. Taking your own time to go out and practice. And then sharing your love and passion with other people to enhance their lives, I think amateur golf is what it’s all about.”
Devlin is chairman and chief executive officer of Devlin Enterprises, a diversified investment holding company based in Wichita. He founded Rent-A-Center, Inc. in 1972, and developed it into the nation’s largest rent-to-own chain. Under his leadership, the company was taken public in 1983 and subsequently sold in 1987.
As his professional career blossomed, Devlin says lessons learned on the golf course never faded.
“If you were going to hire someone, if you watch how they handle themselves on a golf course…how they handle it when they miss a shot, how they handle pressure, there’s just so much about life that golf does,” he advises. “You went in the water…you can get mad, you can change your swing, you can do all kinds of stuff that affects the entire rest of the round or you can understand it’s one bad shot, get up and hit the ball like you normally do and don’t even think about it.”
Devlin’s drive to give back to the game is epitomized by his development of Flint Hills National Golf Cub in Andover. He wanted to bring the golf experience he’d realized at some of the top U.S. facilities back to Kansas. Those that have “experienced” top-rated Flint Hills National and its “Respect the Game” mantra would certainly agree on how successful an endeavor that has been.
“I knew you couldn’t build the best golf course in the world in Kansas, the terrain isn’t here to do it no matter how much money you spend,” Devlin admits. “But we can be the best golf course in America as far as how we treat the customer. We can give you the best golf experience you’ve ever had. …caddies, the way you treat people, the condition of the golf course, the food, better carts…we just said ‘Okay, we’re going to take every aspect of golf and make the experience of the person that comes to Flint Hills, the best they’ve ever had.’”
The pride Devlin takes in his Flint Hills National is only exceeded by that he takes in his family. He and wife of 40 years, Myra, have two sons. Tommy Devlin runs the family farm and ranches and works in the real estate division. He and wife, Holly, have a son and a daughter. Tim Devlin owns Devlin Rod and Customs and is a partner in the Starbird- Devlin Custom Charities Car Show. He and wife, Amanda, have an infant son.
“They love Flint Hills. They both hunt and fish with me. We have a great relationship,” Tom says. “I couldn’t ask for better sons. They’re both better fathers than I was.”
Tom says the Devlins love to travel. And Myra did the interior design/decoration for the clubhouse and lodges at Flint Hills, as she does for much of his company’s properties.
“If you said to me ‘Of my accomplishments in life, what am I most proud of?’ It’s my family. I have two of the greatest sons and a wonderful wife,” Devlin says without hesitation. “My two sons, always working hard, they’ve been working since they were teenagers. (Family) is the one thing I’m more proud of than anything in my life.”
Devlin enters the Hall of Fame in the category of Contributor to the Game.
Dr. Bill Toalson
If accomplishments in golf and success in both career and civic endeavors in Kansas are what qualify a person for the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame, then Prairie Village’s Bill Toalson might be its poster child.
From winning state high school titles to being the first recipient of a golf scholarship at the University of Kansas to winning 11 club championships at Indian Hills Country Club and qualifying for three U.S. Senior Open Championships, his golf resume fits the bill. A lifelong Kansan, Toalson retired from his cardiology practice in 1996 and has given generously of his time in leadership rolls with numerous charitable and professional organizations.
Simply put: Bill Toalson belongs in the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame
“Though there are a number of great candidates, there are none more deserving of this prestigious honor than Dr. William Toalson,” wrote longtime Indian Hills Head Golf Professional Mike Ricket in his letter of recommendation.
Toalson’s 2012 Hall “classmate” and longtime golf partner Tom Devlin wrote of the personal attributes that set his friend apart.
“If qualities of loyalty, integrity, honesty and fairness are a part of the qualifying process, then I feel there is no question that Bill is the candidate to receive this honor,” Devlin penned in a recommendation letter.
Toalson caught the golf bug as a youngster, playing the sand greens of a course in his native Dodge City.
“My dad was the principal and he and another teacher would play golf in the afternoons…they let me tag along,” Toalson said. “…on the sand greens, which was a good way to learn golf because it was a lot easier than grass. The first time I played nine holes I shot a 53. My dad started in Dodge City as a coach, and then became principal, then superintendent. He was really a great influence on me. He made me believe I was a good player under pressure. I’d gotten in a couple early playoffs in tournaments and I’d won and he built on that.”
Toalson quickly developed as a young player and his parents joined the country club “where the grass greens were.” His two-man high school team won the state championship in 1953. Later, he was the first recipient of a golf scholarship at the University of Kansas, culminating in being named captain of the 1959 Jayhawk golf team.
“Back in those days we played matches, instead of tournaments like they do now,” Toalson said. “We won 20 matches in a row in 1957 until we went to the Big 7. I think I averaged 74 in all the matches. In what became the Big 8, I got fourth two years in a row.”
Toalson’s list of amateur golf accomplishments is a long one. His record of championships includes Kansas City Match Play (1969), Kansas Senior Amateur (1991, 1998, 2002 – his 66 in the final round at Lake Quivira Country Club is still a record), Kansas Senior Team (1997, 1998, 2004, 2005), Kansas Four-Ball (2002, 2003), Charlie Coe Invitational Senior Four-Ball (2001, 2003), and 11 club championships at Indian Hills Country Club over a 33-year span. Toalson also served as president of the Kansas City Golf Association.
On the national level, “Toalie” qualified for U.S. Senior Opens in 1989, 1993 and 1995, and has served on the USGA Mid-Amateur Committee. He was a golf course rating panelist for Golf Digest magazine for 28 years.
“The 11 club championships were really fun. I had six in a row, then my wife and I had a place in Colorado, then the next 13 or 14 years we spent the summers in Colorado so I didn’t compete there at Indian Hills,” Toalson said. “Obviously I didn’t compete very much (in KGA events) during the early part of my career when I was in practice… But when I got to playing more, I won the Senior Am three times and won the Senior Team Championship four times with three different partners. …it was fun playing in the seniors, when all the same guys are competing. You get to know them. It was relaxing, not real pressure competition.”
In high school Toalson traveled on mission tours of the Southwest through his church and observed the need for physicians. That, and a long battle with pneumonia during the second grade, influenced his decision to pursue a career in medicine.
“I was in the hospital for a long time. I think I missed almost half a year of school that year,” recalls Toalson, who earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas in 1963 and did his internship and residency at St. Luke’s in Kansas City.
In 1972, Toalson founded Cardiology Services, P.A. He became founder and director of the Catherization Laboratories at Bethany Hospital and Shawnee Mission Medical Center and was later named director of cardiology at the two Kansas City-area facilities.
In 1996, Toalson retired from a long career which included professional appointments and accomplishments far too many to mention here.
“…when I did my internship and was on the cardiology rotation I thought ‘Man, this is fun.’ There was so much to do in cardiology at that point,” Toalson recalls. “We were still seeing people with all those diseases you don’t see any more.”
Later, after a short trip to Wichita with fellow cardiologist Dr. Lynn Kindred to witness Dr. Joseph Galichia doing angioplasty, Toalson went back and began performing the procedure in the Kansas City area.
“Now they take two years learning how to do that,” Toalson says.
Toalson feels the long-term impact of that work even today…
“The catheters we had were crude but we got the job done,” he says. “In fact, the first angioplasty we ever did, the gentleman still sends me a Christmas card every year saying ‘I’m still alive.’”
Toalson and his second wife, Judy, have been married for 38 years. Bill had three children from a previous marriage and Judy had two. Their daughter Susan and her husband, Bud Stagg, run a photography business in Lawrence. Their son Steve Toalson and wife, Marci, live in Lawrence. He works for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. Their daughter Nancy Toalson lives in Lee’s Summit, Mo., and works for Cerner. Their son Chase Van Dyne and wife, Gina, live in Holland, Mich. His business purchases and refurbishes industrial cleaning machines. Their daughter Shelly and her husband, Monte Spradling, live in Kansas City where Monte works for UMB Bank. The Toalsons have 10 grandchildren.
Bill says the Toalsons used to enjoy traveling but have trimmed that back recently. He says Judy enjoys gardening and is “an excellent cook” adding “We eat at home almost all the time.”
Toalson enters the Hall of Fame in the category of Amateur Player.