Chris Thompson was a golf skilled at a course in Greensboro, Georgia within the Nineteen Nineties when it hosted an enormous event for junior golfers.
Thompson, now the pinnacle golf professional at The Membership at Savannah Harbor, lately ran throughout some data on the younger golfers in that American Junior Golf Affiliation occasion and noticed the names Bubba Watson and Charles Howell III.
“Two guys which have made tens of millions on the PGA Tour, and went to school and it paid for that,” Thompson stated. “Of all of the Bubba Watsons and Charles Howells, there have been in all probability 70 different youngsters in there that in all probability went to school on some type of scholarship or performed the mini-tours. That’s the objective.”
Generations of younger golfers wish to play on the PGA Tour, and a few will understand their dream. However lengthy earlier than the professionals, or school and even highschool, many are toiling on programs, at driving ranges and observe greens placing in hours of labor.
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Junior excursions present the aggressive surroundings of event golf and are tailor-made for various ranges of talent and dedication of time and monetary assets.
“There are such a lot of of those, it’s loopy,” Thompson stated. “The AJGA, the American Junior Golf Affiliation, was the one on the prime stage, the one Tiger (Woods) and all the massive canine (performed), nevertheless it prices. That’s a really costly tour. They’re touring everywhere in the nation to play. You may go into your area. There are lots of these little junior excursions which might be doing very, very, very effectively throughout the nation.”
The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour, for instance, has divisions for boys (10-under, 11-13, 14-15, 16-18) and women (13-U, 14-18). A slate of tournaments in 2021 cowl the japanese half of america in addition to Arizona and California. Georgia has 22 occasions scheduled from this weekend by Nov. 28.
New to this world, and with an enormous title sponsor, is the Junior Tour Powered by Under Armour, a nationwide group for girls and boys ages 6-18 of all talent ranges. Began within the fall of 2020, which is likely to be difficult sufficient throughout a pandemic, the tour plans for 33 leagues this spring, together with Atlanta, that includes greater than 7,000 golfers.
Added this spring is the Southeast Georgia league, with six occasions beginning April 18 at Brazell’s Creek Golf Course in Reidsville. Savannah has two occasions. Crosswinds Golf Membership is internet hosting on Might 9, and The Membership at Savannah Harbor has the ultimate date on June 6.
“It’s one other nice choice for the realm,” stated James Walden, Common Supervisor and PGA Director of Golf at Crosswinds.
Walden famous choices such because the Savannah Junior Golf Affiliation, an area group that every summer time levels tournaments culminating in a championship, in addition to U.S. Children Golf, a nationwide group which has a Savannah Native Tour directed by Paul Johnson.
Walden sees the Junior Golf Tour, which has a league registration charge of $295 protecting entry into all six matches, as a means for learners to maneuver ahead of their growth.
“It’s type of bridging the junior that simply began taking part in the sport and is likely to be taking part in on his center faculty crew, however doesn’t actually play in an excessive amount of competitors to play in an organized occasion,” Walden stated.
The tour options 4 coed age divisions (6-8, 11th of September, 12-14, 15-18) taking part in nine-hole occasions.
“It’s fast. It’s two to 3 hours, 9 holes, out and in,” Walden stated.
Thompson stated novice golfers, at ages 8-10, usually are taking part in for the enjoyment of the sport. As they become old, ages 12-15, “they understand golf is what they wish to do they usually transfer up.”
The better the competitors, the better the stakes. The Junior Tour awards medals for the highest three golfers at every occasion in addition to factors primarily based on top-15 finishes towards qualifying for regional and nationwide championships.
The Spring Southeast Regional Championship is June 10-13 at Streamsong Resort in Bowling Inexperienced, Florida. The Summer season 2021 Nationwide Championship is July 16-18 at Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
With extra on the road, the golfers will probably be examined.
“It’s all a part of the method,” Thompson stated. “If they’ll’t deal with it, they weed themselves out. Those that make it maintain going.
“That is the Little League baseball of golf, is what it’s. The children who’re attempting to make their mark. They’ll determine it out. Consider me, if the children aren’t excelling, mother and pop, it’s humorous how that pocketbook finds a means of closing up.”
Savannah native and resident Reed Lotter has expertise touring to play golf, like his sister who competed on journey soccer groups. He understands concerning the lengthy hours on the street and the price of staying in a single day in accommodations.
“It provides up,” Lotter stated. “That’s one of many challenges of journey sports activities.”
He’s 16 and an Eleventh-grader on the Savannah Nation Day golf crew. He has plans to journey to tournaments close to and much this yr as one of many elite junior golfers in Georgia. Final weekend, he had a sponsor exemption as an newbie to play towards the professionals within the Korn Ferry Tour occasion in Savannah. He didn’t make the cut but played well on the Membership Automotive Championship at The Landings Membership.
Lotter is likely to be previous taking part in on the Junior Golf Tour, however he likes the chance it affords for these on the novice to intermediate ranges.
“I feel it’s a good way for someone striving to get higher within the sport,” Lotter stated. “It’s superb to rank up on the factors and get to play some nicer programs. It sounds prefer it’s a bit of bit just like the Hurricane Tour. I like the thought of extra native occasions and proving your self on that, and then you definately go into regional occasions.
“It’d be a good way to develop the sport, particularly for Savannah,” he added.
Nathan Dominitz is the Sports activities Content material Editor of the Savannah Morning Information and savannahnow.com. E-mail him at [email protected] Twitter: @NathanDominitz