WEST ON GOLF: Texas-Louisiana tour terrific for juniors

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Babe Zaharias head pro Ed Campbell continues to show how much he cares about creating opportunities for junior golfers in Southeast Texas. The latest example is the Texas-Louisiana Junior Tour which will kick off a four-tournament schedule Saturday, Feb. 6 at Gray Plantation in Lake Charles.
Campbell, disappointed at the lack of participation in the area’s junior winter tour last year, thought he could spark interest by involving a couple of high quality courses in Southwest Louisiana. Bear Suarez, who operates a teaching academy at The National, quickly embraced Campbell’s idea and helped sell it to National head pro David Kaspar and Gray Plantation’s Tyler Kuhn.
“Everybody we have talked to sees the upside,” said Campbell. “There is no question those two Louisiana courses are going to be a strong drawing card. Plus, we’ll attract a lot of good junior players from Southwest Louisiana to make the tour really competitive.
“It’s a win-win deal for all involved. I’m excited about the possibilities.”
Campbell, who has been deeply committed to both the summer and winter junior tours in Southeast Texas, was on the verge of pulling the plug on the winter tour. Numbers had been steadily going down, especially among high-school age players.
“One of the reasons we started the winter tour a few years ago was to provide high school kids tournament competition before their season began,” he said. “But very few of them were playing. Frankly, I was disappointed that the high school coaches weren’t pushing them to play.”
Campbell spreads the credit around for helping get his brainchild from the drawing board to reality. He’s gotten strong support from Jerry Honza of the First Tee of the Golden Triangle and Kurt Picard and Mitch Duncan of the KAM Academy at Bayou Din.
“Nobody cares more about junior golf and promoting junior golf than those guys do,” said Campbell. “They see the upside for this and want to be a part of it.”
Also pleasing to Campbell was the number of sponsors who bought in once he pitched the idea. Thus far, there are 15. He’ll welcome anyone else who buys into the vision and wants to help offset some of the costs.
Among the businesses that have stepped up are Pepsi Bottling Co. of Beaumont, Star Graphics of Beaumont, Catfish Cabin in Lumberton, Economy Insulation in Bridge City, Vin’s Paint and Body of both Nederland and Beaumont, Home Care Elite in Nederland, Echo Maintenance in Nederland and
METALFORMS in Beaumont.
Also on board are Dr. Charles Moses of Port Arthur, Dr. Boyd Herndon of Port Neches, W.E. Fouts of Beaumont, Ray Moore of Idylwild Golf Club, Ronnie Pfleider of Idylwild and the Babe Zaharias Dog Fight Association.
“We can’t thank those folks enough,” said Campbell. “We appreciate the fact they see the merits of junior golf and want to be participants in helping make this Texas-Louisiana Tour possible.”
The tour is open to juniors 7 through 18, but is restricted to players who are still in school. Framed certificates will be presented to winners in all age groups. There will also be special awards given to the players who pile up the most cumulative points in the four events.
Entry fee is $20 per tournament. There will be separate flights for boys and girls ages 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18 as well as co-ed flights for ages 7-9 and 10-11. Deadline to enter each event is 5 p.m. the Wednesday prior to a specific tournament.
For more information, call the Zaharias golf shop at 722-8286 or e-mail Honza at jhonz@pga.com.
One thing the Texas-Louisiana tour should do is provide an answer to the question of who is going to replace PN-G’s Braden Bailey as the area’s top schoolboy player. Among the leading candidates are Skylar Petrosky of Bridge City, Josh Elmore of PN-G and the Miller brothers — Johnathon and William – from Kelly.
The girls side is less of a mystery, PN-G’s Karlei Hemler will be favored every time she tees it up, but is expected to get strong challenges from LC-M’s Lauren Cox.
Following the Feb. 6 stop at Gray Plantation, the tour moves on to Idylwild on Feb. 13, The National on Feb. 20 and Bayou Din Feb. 27.
CHIP SHOTS: Bailey, now a freshman at Baylor, fired an even par 72 in the opening round of the Crown Colony Collegiate Open at Lufkin’s Crown Colony Country Club and was in second place entering the final 18 holes. Bailey was two shots back of Wisconsin’s Eddie Wajda in a 27-player field . . . Mark Gonzales of Beaumont sank a hole in one on the 162-yard, 6th hole at Idylwild Golf Club. Gonzales used a 4 hybrid to bag the ace. Witnesses were Darien Duhon, Adam West, Brad Williams and Kerry McClain . . . Bubba Brevell of Port Neches scored an eagle 2 on the 358-yard, No. 6 hole at
Babe Zaharias. Brevell holed a sand wedge from 83 yards. Witnesses were Monroe
Pratt Jr., Jim Huebel, Kenneth Belaire and Luke Wolfford . . . There was a two way tie for first in the Babe Zaharias DogFight. Posting 14 points was the team of Adam Noel, Dillard Darbonne, Roger Koch and Robert Lynch and the foursome of Gary Whitfill, Gerald Huebel, Bobby Kimball and Ron Overstreet. Closest to the pin winners were Whitfill (No. 2), Gene Hardy (No. 7, Cap Hollier (No. 12) and Jim Cooper (No. 15) . . . The Thursday Senior Game at The Babe was played in a Select Drive All Points Count forward. Winning handily with 20 points was the team of Javier Torres, Bob Barnes, Charlie Huckaby and Cooper. Second with 5 points was the foursome of Raymond Darbonne, Dillard
Darbonne, Larry Rogers and Larry Foster. Closest to the pin winners were Rogers (No. 2), Charlie Scott (No. 7), Torres (No. 12) and Rick Pritchett (No. 15) . . . The Super Saturday Game at The Babe was played in a best 2 ball format, with the team of Noel, Pritchett, Lee Bertrand and Dan Flood winning both the front and back nines. They were even par on both sides.
Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.

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