The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Despite the best efforts of Ed Campbell, Jerry Honza and other golf professionals in Southeast Texas, interest in what is the future of their sport — junior golfers — appears to be tapering off. Latest manifestation of that is a dramatic drop-off in the numbeR of kids involved in the Southern Texas PGA-First Tee of the Golden Triangle Junior Winter Tour.
Numbers were so low in the year’s first two tourneys, although weekend weather was decent, that Campbell and Honza are concerned. Campbell said if participation doesn’t pick up, he may have to pull the plug on the Winter Tour.
“The lower turnouts have me concerned,” said the Babe Zaharias head pro, who has long been a strong promoter of junior golf. “I’m disappointed because it wasn’t too long ago that we’d average 40-45 players per event and sometimes we’d have 60 or more.
“Through the Southeast Texas Winter Tour, The First Tee and the Southern Texas PGA, we’ve expanded the number of opportunities for local youth to play in affordable and competitive golf events. But we are going in the wrong direction as far as participation is concerned.”
Honza, who has been a terrific leader and advocate for the First Tee, is a big believer in golf’s virtues and what The First Tee stands for. He strongly contends there’s a tremendous upside for kids who take full advantage of what is being offered.
“No doubt people are busier than ever before, but many area youth are missing out on a great opportunity to improve their games and to develop important interpersonal and self management skills,” he said. “Those skill will not only help them in larger tournaments but in other areas of life.”
CHIP SHOTS: Nederland’s Thaine Tillie fired a 77 at Idylwild Golf Club Saturday to win Boys 16-18 in the second stop on the Winter Tour. He finished two shots clear of Jacob Santacoloma of Lake Charles. Brook Tyree of Sulphur, La., with an 85, edged Karlei Hemler of Groves of by a stroke in Girls 16-18. Other flight winners were Chase McCormick of Sulphur (105 in Boys 14-15), Jack Burke of Little Cypress (80 in Boys 12-13), Micah DePew of Kountze (49 in Co-ed 10-11, 9 holes) and Luke Wood of Village Mills (32 in Co-ed 7-9, 6 holes. Next tournament is Saturday at Belle Oaks . . . The team of Adam Noel, Mark Petry, Roger Koch and Jim Thompson finished with 17 points to win the Babe Zaharias DogFight. There was a four-way tie for second at 16 points. Closest to the pin winners were Drake Romero (No. 2, No. 12), Cap Hollier (No. 7) and Noel (No. 15) . . . The team of Earl Richard, Larry Foster, Marc Petry and Carl Certa scored a front nine-back nine sweep in the Jan. 20 Seniors 50 Plus Game at the Babe. They finished minus 5 on the front and minus 3 on the back . . . Chris Stroud, after skipping San Diego last week, returns to the PGA Tour for the Waste Management Open this week at the TPC Scottsdale. Stroud’s best finish in the raucous Scottsdale event, which draws the tour’s biggest and wildest crowds, was a T12 in 2012. His most memorable shot at Scottsdale, however, came last year when he nearly made a one at the par 3, 16th. That hole, if you’ve never seen it on TV, is completely enclosed with grandstands filled mostly with heavily lubricated college kids prone to make massive amounts of noise . . . Lamar ex Dawie Van der Walt had another good week on the European Tour, leading early then settling for a T9 in an event won by Sergio Garcia. Dawie posted a 72-hole total of 13-under-par 275, which was three stroke off Garcia’s winning number. He pocketed $53,000 . . . Former Houstonian Mancil Davis, who is known in golf circles as the “King of Aces”, is in a bit of a slump. Davis, who lays claim to a world record 51 documented holes in one, has not authored an ace since 2007. That’s not good for a guy who made three aces in five days in June of 1967 and accounted for at least one every year from 1967-87. His most prolific year was 1967 when he logged eight holes in one . . . If you have trouble making putts, you will love a project TaylorMade announced last week. Concerned about the game’s sagging numbers, TaylorMade is sinking $5 million into a program that hopes to grow the game’s appeal by expanding cups to 15 inches. Regulation cups are 4.25 inches. TaylorMade CEO Mark King, according to James Achenbach of Golfweek, has already found a dozen courses willing to go with the new cups. Actually, the plan is to have a regulation cup and an expanded cup on each hole. Golfers can take their pick. “It saves time, it saves strokes,” King told Achenbach. “It makes golf more fun for a lot of people.”
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