THE Singleton Junior Open is a dream that has been held by the newly-formed Singleton Junior Golf Committee since day one.
And, junior golf in town is making a comeback after senior ladies’ member Colleen Rock saw that there were so many children not given the chance to get out onto the course to play and started volunteering her own time to be the person to provide that opportunity.
She then recruited some parents with golfing backgrounds to do a training course with Mark Ingrey, territory manager from Jack Newton Junior Golf.
Rock and her daughter Jo started running school holiday programs and a Sunday morning mini comp for interested juniors.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2016 and a new committee was formed with some passionate people with big visions for where junior golf could be taken.
They kicked off a Saturday afternoon comp, membership program and quickly saw their numbers grow.
In addition, they now have junior golfers joining them from surrounding areas on a Saturday.
Not only were their numbers growing but the format for improvement in skill is working.
With some older juniors playing in bigger competitions, the group of passionate volunteers wanted to kick off an annual local Open.
“It has to start at grass roots level, which is clubs and professionals, making sure their junior programs are easily accessible, fun and affordable for families,” president Chad Vesper said.
“The kids are the future of our clubs and our sport and, without them, the sport in regional areas won’t be around for long.
“We get to meet such great kids along the way.
“Golf is a sport that teaches the children so much more than just how to play.
“It also helps them to be great human beings.
“Through their sport they are taught patience, respect, honesty and much more.”
Sunday, August 13, saw their first Singleton Junior Open come to fruition.
With Monadelphous providing some fencing around the first tee and Nick Carey stepping up as caller on the microphone for the morning, the kids experienced a little of what it is like on the big stage.
A great crowd gathered to watch the kids tee off for their rounds.
“We had some spectators heading out to watch on course and every person was awestruck with the talent that was on show,” Vesper said.
“Asian Tour player and local Kurt Barnes also gave his time to attend the day and assist with presentation, which was another great buzz for the kids.”
Mark Ingrey reinforced the event’s success.
“Recently, single day tournaments average 30 players,” he said.
“The numbers are low due to demands on parents across the state and few junior players in certain areas, however the girls were keen to give it a go, and with their drive we embarked on a mission.
“Colleen, Mel, Chad and Jo are extremely passionate.
“Singleton’s Junior Open exceeded 45 entries and, more importantly, there were great numbers in the nine-hole divisions, while girls’ numbers were also up.
“It’s this type of passion that supports and develops the junior game.
“This committee should be extremely proud of themselves for what they have done at the club and now in the region.”
The day couldn’t have been successful without Nick Carey, from Monadelphous, securing a great deal of sponsorship, allowing them to be able to offer one of the biggest prize pools for a club-run junior event in the region.
“Also, we are so blessed to be supported by our very passionate and generous club members throughout the year,” Mel Vesper added.
“But, the turnout for the actual day of the open was heart-warming.
“Today wouldn’t have been able to happen and run as smoothly without them generously giving their time.”
The results for the day were as good as anyone expected on a course that is sometimes underestimated in difficulty.
The boys’ champion was Corey Lamb from Branxton Golf Club with an impressive 70 off the stick and girls’ winner was Piper Prince from Waratah Golf Club with 81.
The boys’ nett victor was Singleton’s Ethan Van Zyl while Pyper Hollis from Kew Country Club claimed the girls’ spoils.
The runners up were Lachlan McDonald from Stonebridge and Singleton’s Jasmine Vesper.
There was also an 18-hole stableford division for both boys and girls and these were taken out by Thomas Irwin (Pacific Dunes) and Ainsley Childs (Kurri Kurri).
The nine-hole stableford competition was won by Angus Mc Clellan from The Vintage.
With a weekly Saturday afternoon competition, monthly Juniors on the Move program and annual Open, the committee isn’t finished yet.
They have some exciting ideas in the pipeline and are determined to see the sport of junior golf enjoy a spectacular comeback.
To find out more about Singleton Junior Golf, and make sure you don’t miss out on any exciting news, visit their Facebook page.