On Monday, October 10th, we lost not only a special friend but a great golfer. Slade Adams, who grew up in Wichita, Kansas passed away. He was a close personal friend to me and also was married to my cousin, Gina.
My first recollection of meeting Slade came at the Wichita City Junior golf championship at Tex Consolver golf course in 1989. I was 13 years old and Slade was 16 years old. I couldn’t believe I was actually playing in a tournament with the legend that I had heard so much about. It was fun to watch Slade win the tournament by 10 shots, and this the first of many tournaments I would play alongside Slade, and most of them he won.
Slade and I met up again in high school when we were on the same Kapaun Boys golf team. He had already won 2 previous state team titles at KMC and I was lucky enough to be on the team where we won one more together. He welcomed me with open arms as a freshman. He was always kind to all of us freshman and enjoyed taking us under his wing. He mentored us on how to be good golfers and even better people. Something my teammates always remembered about him when we were seniors in high school.
After graduating from Kapaun, Slade went to TCU on a golf scholarship. We would talk a lot about how hard college golf was compared to high school golf and the struggles he was having his freshman year at TCU. He ended up transferring around his sophomore year to University of Kansas. Lawrence Kansas was a perfect fit for him. He flourished on and off the course at KU. Slade worked really hard on his game, and I feel, under coach Ross Randall, this is where his game really turned the corner. In 1995, at Prairie Dunes, he won the Big 8 conference individual title (now Big 12). For the record, in the field were some impressive names who went on to be stars on the PGA Tour. This was an enormous accomplishment and a good boost towards what was to come in his golf career.
When his college career ended at The University of Kansas, he played professionally on various tours. The Web.com, Tight Lies Tour, Prairie Tour, and finally the PGA Tour. Life on the road as a professional golf was tough for him as it is for anyone. The long stretches away from his family and friends were difficult. The highlight of his professional career was making it into the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional. This US Open was won by Ernie Els, and it was the first US Open that Tiger played in as a professional. It also was famous for the shot that Tom Lehman hit on the 17th hole, into the water, costing him the chance to win the title. Not only was it an awesome feat just making it to the US Open, Slade made the cut.
Slade loved his family, Slade loved the University of Kansas, and Slade loved golf. Those three things are what he was known for, but, for me the thing that I will miss the most are the times we spent after playing a round of golf. Slade was the type of friend that would never get in your business, but, had an uncanny way of giving great advice. You wouldn’t know it was advice because he would disguise it in a story he’d tell about his past. Slade for the most part, had experienced everything. He wouldn’t ever tell you what do to, he’d just explain in his story how he went about things. He would say some things worked for him and that some things didn’t work for him. You could mine those nuggets of “Slade information” and use them in your life. We spoke a lot when I was contemplating what college I was going to attend and also when I was deciding if playing golf for a living was for me after college.
We are all going to miss that long, smooth, golf swing he had with a driver. His precision wedges, and a putting style I continue to try and copy. There is a pit in my stomach knowing that we will never get to see him again. We will never get to see him make another birdie, or never get to see a long drive right down the center of the fairway.
Slade leaves behind four wonderful girls. His wife Gina and his three daughters Jill, Reece, and Victoria (who goes by Torrey, named after his favorite golf course Torrey Pines). His Mom Nikki, Bob his father, and brother Mike. Other family incudes Dr. Eric Larson, Terry, Kate, Kelly and Doug Knipp, many nieces and nephews and tons of friends. There wasn’t ever a person that met him that didn’t become an immediate friend.
It is with great honor that Slade Adams will live on with your donations to The Slade Adams Memorial Fund. Slade would be so proud that kids, who normally wouldn’t be exposed to the game he loved, are able to learn about the 9 core values of The First Tee and learn the game that took him so many places. Slade had plans on getting involved in The First Tee Greater Wichita with me next summer as a volunteer coach. Now he still can through your generosity. Below will is a link to where you can donate buy credit card or paypal.
RIP my good friend and Rock Chalk Jayhawk.