Nineteen years ago a plan was hatched to support junior golf in Alberta.
The idea has reached a maturation level of sorts with the golf courses onboard according to the executive director of the McLennan Ross Junior Golf Tour.
“The majority of sites on the tour have been with the tour either since its inception or at least within the first two or three years of the tour,” said Dunc Mills.
There are 26 stops on this year’s edition and Mills said the course operators deserve a pat on the back for their contribution.
“These clubs that we’re hosting the events at give up their courses for free for the kids so all the money they collect from entry fees goes back to these kids in prizes and the meal. It wouldn’t exist without these host sites.”
The Edmonton law firm of McLennan Ross has been with the tour since day one after the decision was made to support a golf tour which touched on the grassroots development of golfers in Alberta.
Douglas Forer, a partner with the firm, said the backbone of the tour is really the parents who put on a lot of miles. “Getting the kids to the tournaments, showing them around, making sure that they are here to participate, we really value those parents.”
An ongoing issue crops up each year and that is getting more young girls involved.
Mills said if he had the magic elixir to achieve a 50/50 balance of boys and girls on the tour he would have golf associations from around the world knocking on his door. But there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
“One thing I was encouraged with last year as much as anything was the number of new girls that were coming out and playing some competitive events.”
He credits programs through Golf Canada and Alberta Golf for introducing the game to them but he feels more players are close to joining.
Many of the parents may have been original players on the junior tour and now they’re having children of their own who have reached the age to play junior golf.
“They had a great experience in junior golf and I think we’re starting to see them get their kids into the game as well,” said Mills.
The first event on the tour is May 31st at Drayton Valley and the final will be held at Wolf Creek Golf Resort on Aug. 25th.