The first week of May means that for most kids it’s the final month of schoolwork and summer is getting tantalizingly close. It could, repeat could, finally stop snowing in the frigid North Country (anywhere north of Texas), but, importantly, it means amateur registration is finally under way for the state’s 2013 junior golf season. This summer there will be hundreds of events in dozens of Lone Star locations to give kids of all ages and abilities a chance to tee it up. The state long ago scheduled year-round competition for an ever-flowing pipeline of talented young players to face competitors in-state and elsewhere. But for most, the arrival of summer means a chance to experience their sport and enhance their ability in a variety of junior amateur formats. “It’s organized chaos around here right now,” said Mark Harrison, the executive director for the Northern Texas PGA. “Our phones are ringing off the hook right now and we’ve already registered 400 kids in the first day of junior golf registration.” This is the second year of the Texas Junior Golf Alliance, which brought together the state’s leading amateur organizations – the Texas Golf Association, the Northern and Southern PGA sections and the Houston Golf Association – to give juniors more access to events. “The first year of the Texas Junior Golf Alliance was a great success,” said Blair Ressler, program manager for Houston Golf Association Junior Golf. “This partnership allowed juniors to have access to a wide range of competition, without the burden of travel expenses and multiple membership fees.” A total of 5,200 Texas junior amateurs participated last year, with most of it coordinated through the Texas Junior Golf Alliance. It meant players did not have to join each individual organization. The Southern Texas PGA section has five sections for male and female juniors based on age, ability and interest level. There is Team Golf for players in the 6-12 age group; Little Linksters individual play in the same age group; the Junior Links Tour, with nine-hole events for players in the 13-18 age group; the Junior Tour, with 18- and 36-hole events for players age 10 to 18; and the Prestige Level, with two-day, 36-hole events for players age 13 to 18 at top local facilities. Other organizations have slightly different levels, but the same principle of getting the right junior golfers at the right skill level to the right courses. “Many of our Performance Series members took advantage of the opportunity, competed at high-quality events without leaving the state of Texas,” Ressler said. “The continuation of this partnership is a great benefit to our members and we look forward to seeing our juniors excel at the highest level.” David Prinz, who runs the Texas Legends Junior Tour for the Texas Golf Association, said the start of summer and the new golf alliance has been a great aid to his program. “We’re really happy for the alliance because it has brought out all types of golfers to play in our events,” he said. “We have major events like the HP Junior Golf Championship here in North Texas and the Texas State Junior Championship in Horseshoe Bay in July, but we have bunches of kids who play other sports and only play golf in the summer.” For kids who only play when school is out or haven’t played before, the Northern Texas PGA will offer summer golf for $199. “It’s really one of the best deals going in all of sports,” Harrison said. “You get lessons, clubs, a hat, places to play and people to play with. We have prep play, which is just nine holes, and medalist for 18 holes. I really believe during the summer a kid could play a golf tournament almost every day.” For information, go to www.ntpgajuniorgolf.com; www.stpgajuniorgolf.com; www.hga.org/juniorgolf or www.tljt.org.; or call (214) 468-8955. Either way, it’s May and the sun is out. The temperature is in the golf zone. Juniors are busting out all over Texas.
Beaumont’s Charlie Jabbia held on to his first-round lead to win the Senior Division of the 2013 South Senior Amateur, run by the Texas Golf Association, while LD Clopton won in the Super Senior Division. The event was hosted by Sugar Land’s Sugar Creek Country Club. Jabbia followed a Wednesday round of 1-under-par 71 with 1-over 73 Thursday, for a two-day total of even-par 144. Finishing in a tie for second were Katy’s David Pocknall and Houston’s Gary Durbin, at 2-overpar 146. McAllen’s Clopton came from behind with a second-round 72 to finish three strokes in front of 2012 Super Senior champion Peter Kirchner at 4-over-par 148.
Four-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay and his amateur partner Mike Schrade of Dallas captured the Northern Texas PGA Adams Golf Pro-Scratch Championship on Tuesday after winning a sudden-death playoff on the first extra hole. Begay and Schrade fired a final round of 3-under-par 68 during the morning wave to finish with a two-round total of 8-under-par 134 at Lakewood Country Club. Ashley Van Straten, PGA assistant professional at Lakewood, and amateur partner Rob Couture began the day at 4 under and finished the second round with another round of 4-under 67 during the afternoon wave to force the playoff.