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By Ernie W. Webb III | firstname.lastname@example.org
It took a little time for Golf Digest to warm up to the idea of having Ron Whitten work full-time from his home in Topeka. That wasn’t the ideal setup in the 1980s, when the full-time employees at the magazine lived where the company was based: Connecticut.
“I worked for the magazine part-time because I didn’t want to move from Topeka,” Whitten said during the Nov. 1 Wake Up With Washburn at Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center. “In 1985, they agreed to let me work from home full-time for one year to see how it went.”
More than 25 years later, it’s safe to say the arrangement has worked for both parties. Whitten, who received a juris doctor degree from Washburn in 1977, is the architecture senior editor at Golf Digest.
His duties include directing the rankings of golf courses across the country using a system he revamped in the 1980s.
“I’ve been fortunate to do this,” Whitten said. “It’s given me the opportunity to play with some of the best players and golf course designers in the world.”
That list includes such renowned players and designers as Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Weiskopf, Pete Dye and Bobby Jones. It’s a list that features dozens of major championships won and dozens of courses designed.
Whitten has been involved in the design of several golf courses, including Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis. Voted “Best New Course” by Golf Magazine in 2007, Erin Hills hosted the U.S. Amateur championship in 2011 and will host the U.S. Open in 2017.
A lifelong golfer, Whitten was an attorney for several years after receiving his degree from Washburn, including a stint as city prosecutor in Topeka.
In the early 1980s, he co-authored “The Golf Course,” the first book on the history of golf course design, leading to his career at Golf Digest.
Whitten and his wife, Lynn, have five daughters and five grandsons.