For many people, Sundays in the fall equates to football, football and more football.
But for many youngsters, this time of year means golf, lots of it.
The JC Golf Junior Tour and the Parent-Junior League are both in full swing.
JC Golf Junior Tour
The JC Golf Junior Tour, run by Twin Oaks assistant pro Steve Lyons, is designed to give kids (ages 10-17) a more competitive experience in a tournament atmosphere as they prepare for high school or college competition.
“We portray it as a developmental tour and kids get the feel of what tournament golf is like,” said Lyons. “They are getting their feet wet and the kids have a great time.”
The tour, which features about 60 players and runs through late November, is staged at a different JC Golf course each Sunday morning. To appeal to more golfers of varying skill levels, there are gross and net winners. Last week’s gross winners shot 1-over par in the 10-13 age division and 2-over in the 14-17 division at Twin Oaks.
“And that was in 100-degree heat,” Lyons said. “They were grinding it out.”
Players earn points every week and the points leader at the end of the season will earn free golf for an entire year. Players can join the tour at any time.
Lloyd Porter, the head pro at Oaks North, started the tour about seven years ago and has seen a number of top young players use the tour as a stepping stone, including Annika Chickering, a standout senior at Del Norte High. Other top players include Rancho Bernardo High’s Zihao Jin and Rancho Santa Fe’s Brooke Seay.
“We all are trying to grow the game and it’s great to see these kids get out there, watching them smile after they shoot their lowest round ever,” said Lyons. “On the other side, they may have had their worst round but we always try to have them focus on what they did right. We remind them that everyone has a bad day and there’s always an opportunity to do better.”
“It’s the most fun thing I do all year,” said Porter, who started the program about 15 years ago. “It brings dads, moms and their kids together. We used to do it for eight weeks but now we do it for 10 because of the demand. We have people that will play in it for four to five years until their kids are off to college.”
The league attracts more than 50 teams every year and teams can join at any time. The league runs through October.
The league is run on a point system and juniors can win a free round of golf when they earn 12 points. They can earn points off the course, too, by writing a short letter of lessons they learned in the program.
“We have a banquet at the end and the greatest thing is watching one of our kids read a letter they wrote—whether it was about sportsmanship, courtesy, or etiquette. It’s so much more than golf.”
For more information on the Parent-Junior League, contact Porter at (858) 487-3021 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the JC Golf Junior Tour, contact Lyons at email@example.com.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.