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2017 Men of the Year: Kirk Elmquist

Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge

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Kirk Elmquist is helping Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris put the Ozarks on the map.

The first and only tournament director for Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge, Elmquist has led the event into the national spotlight. In its inaugural year of 2014, the golf tournament for professionals age 50 and older was broadcast live to some 148 million homes in the United States and 210 foreign countries. Fast forward to this year, and the Legends event at Big Cedar went out to 300 million homes in 220 countries and territories.

“Being named tournament director in April of 2014, just a couple of months before the June 14, 2014, PGA Tour Champions Bass Pro Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge was an honor and a very humbling experience,” Elmquist says. “We had many great opportunities as a team, from finding volunteers to finding and training new employees.

“The teamwork from our group that went into that effort was a very proud moment in my career.”

Inaugural year efforts led to the PGA Tour honoring Legends of Golf at Big Cedar with an outstanding achievement award. This spring, Bass Pro extended its sponsorship of the Champions tournament for another four years. 

Elmquist’s work in Ridgedale, just south of Branson, wasn’t the first time he built up strong sporting franchises.

In 1997, the Lima, Ohio-native moved to Springfield to work as associate executive director for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. There, he helped build sales for another golf tournament, the Price Cutter Charity Championship, into what’s now raised nearly $14 million for Ozarks children’s charities during its 28-year history. After working a stint as director of marketing for Millwood Golf & Racquet Club, another one of his career highlights came to pass: Elmquist was named one of the founding front office team members of the Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field.

As vice president of sales and marketing, Elmquist recalls the setup for the team’s inaugural 2005 season as one of the most rewarding times in his work life.

“We started from scratch and made it happen,” he says. “Hiring and training the sales staff, working alongside our game day staff and spirit team, and creating a ‘name the mascot’ contest were just a few of the tasks that made it a memorable year.”

Elmquist is a known personality in the Ozarks. He can be heard on the radio and seen as an emcee for events and as a public speaker for engagements nationwide.

“One of my favorite things to do is to talk on the subject of having a positive mental attitude,” he says. “I believe in having passion and enthusiasm, so when there is an opportunity to talk to a local company, a business class, a commencement audience, a group of volunteers or the local rotary club, I try to make their day better than it was before we met.” 

Elmquist also imparts his wisdom to others, helping those working alongside him grow in their own careers. He recalls hiring Dan Reiter in 2004 as an account executive for the Springfield Cardinals. Earlier this year, Reiter moved into the vice president and general manager seat.

“Many people have helped me, and it is only right for me to help others,” he says.


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