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We love to bring you new venues and challenges. How about a hugely historic golf venue that’s been hosting Championships for almost 100 years that was originally designed by a legendary Scottish architect who is credited with the creation of more than 400, that we know of, and possibly as many as 1000 of the USA’s earliest and best golf course venues?

His name was Tom Bendelow, the youngest of nine children born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1868.

Bendelow’s influence on golf in this country is astonishing and so many of his designs have stood the test of time. Think of places like Ryder Cup venue Medinah and East Lake GC in Atlanta, host of the Fedex Championships and the place Bobby Jones grew up learning the game and you begin to realise just how influential to our ancient game he was! Dubsdread GC is a great venue to play and it’s without doubt MY new favorite golf course in Florida!

It was challenging for all and yet another great day of Highlander Junior Tour golf at this renowned and historic Club in Orlando on Saturday.

This was tournament 34 of our 2021 season and almost 40 juniors joined us for this one. The wonderful golf setting, the welcoming staff and the golf course didn’t disappoint!

Dubsdread GC has once again been chosen as one of the upcoming Regional Championship Venue locations of the 2021 FHSAA (Florida High School Athletics Association) golf season. We are extremely pleased and very proud indeed to note that many of our regular Highlander players are in a great position to be attending these Championships and most of them were in attendance on Saturday.

For them this was an opportunity to visit Dubsdread GC in advance of these Championships and compete in a real tournament setting, not just go and play a practice round! We hope they found the experience worthwhile and it enhances their chances of making it to The FHSAA State Championships at Mission Inn in early November! For others it was another opportunity to play another new venue and continue their golf development journey.

It’s always great to be welcoming new players to Highlander Tour for the first time. On Saturday we welcomed Haley Holderfield (Lecanto HS) Gianna DiGiacomo (Sanford) Nicklaus Meyer (Port Orange) Palmer Ackerbloom (Windermere) Holt Rue (Masters Academy) and Colton Young (The Villages) to their first Highlander Tour event.  It was a pleasure to have you all with us for this one. We hope you all enjoyed the experience and we hope to see you back playing with us again really soon.

Let’s get started on the results of each flight. As usual we will start with The Claret Jug Flight.

The Claret Jug Flight

 

This is our Elite player flight. All ages and each of our Claret Jug players has won promotion into this flight by winning on 3 or more occasions during the season. It’s a tough group to get into and an even tougher medal to win as you are only up against serial medal winners and our strongest players.

There were 5 players in our Claret Jug Flight. Between them they have secured 20 winners medals already this year and each was hoping to add to their already impressive medal tally!

This was a really hard fought competition with 3 strong players each only separated by a single stroke when the scores were in!

Riley Sillaway (Longwood) continues to improve and in addition to 6 medal wins in total earlier this year he became our first TCL Junior Open Champion at Glenview in The Villages. He’s without doubt the most focused and driven young 12 year old we know and he’s building up a wealth of experience that’s making him tough not to install as a strong favorite in many of these events.

Riley made a steady par start to this one before being tested at number two which resulted in a couple of dropped shots. Concentration resumed at number three however and the remainder of the front nine was covered in -1. Highlights were two birdies, at 4 and 6, and consistent par being achieved on five of those opening nine holes. At the halfway stage Riley’s +1 (37) would not only put him in a good place going forward it also represented the best front nine of the day for the whole field of players!

Gabriel Hull (Spruce Creek HS) is one of our own! A long time Highlander who’s been missed by us all over the last few months it was great to welcome this talented young man back to tournament play with us. Gabriel can be a real joy to watch when he’s in competition. He has a great temperament for the game, always appears relaxed and in control, and it looks like his game is pretty strong right now too!

Gabriel made birdie on the par three third hole and par on six of the other opening holes. Uncharacteristically two double bogey errors at four and eight were conceded on the tough greens of Dubsdread GC, despite those though he too sat in a fairly good place to begin the back nine carding a +3(39) to sit only a couple off Riley.

We are extremely fortunate to have so many highly talented young juniors in our ranks and another of those is Braden Hawkins (Clermont). Braden and Gabriel are similar players in character and temperament and very little fazes either. A couple of additional years makes Braden the more experienced campaigner in tournaments and on his day it’s an absolute pleasure to watch him play golf.

Braden got off to a tough start with a couple of dropped shots on the first. He put that behind him fast though and made par on the next four holes before another setback cropped up at six and seven which resulted in three more given back. Eight and nine both made in par was the beginning of what was to be a better afternoon for Braden. After nine were played Braden had carded a +5 (41). Not an insurmountable challenge but he would know already the strengths of his fellow Claret Jug players and a significantly better back nine would be required to add to his medal tally.

Gabriel kept his consistent par run going making no fewer than five in a row early in the back nine. Number 15 was his undoing unfortunately as he gave a couple of shots back. Par on sixteen and seventeen were welcome and a final bogey on 18 resulted in a final scorecard of 39-38-(77). A very decent showing on his return but on this occasion it wasn’t to be enough for the South Daytona youngster.

Braden’s best form of the day had started at number eight with par which he duplicated at nine. On the back stretch it got even better! How about this for an impressive stretch of holes? Par-Birdie-Birdie-Par-Par-Birdie-Par! That’s great play and if we go back to when it began it equates to a run of nine holes played in -3! Golf can be a cruel and challenging game and offers us NO guarantees despite how well we may be playing. Seventeen and Eighteen put a dent in his hopes by reclaiming those three shots he’d earned earlier! Tough to take BUT the positives must always be emphasised and Braden’s level par back nine was really impressive and showed a five stroke improvement on the front. Braden’s scorecard read 41-35-(76)

Riley was doing what he does regularly in many of our tournament events. Playing consistent, thoughtful golf and making par regularly. He doesn’t go chasing glory shots and he’s got enough experience to know that all good things begin by making par. He did that from ten through thirteen. A couple of single shots dropped over the next two holes, par at sixteen, bogey at seventeen and par at eighteen was enough to close off this one. He’s capable of lower but on a day where the challenge of Dubsdread GC was never going to be a breeze he did a great job carding a 37-38-(75) to take home The Claret Jug Medal and his 7th of the year so far!

Congratulations Riley from everyone at Highlander Tour. A great season so far and as we approach our final few events you’re in a great place to finish the season well!

Happy to get the job done! Riley did it once again. Good job young fella! Congratulations from us all!

The Annika Sorenstam Flight

 

It’s not often we have such a strong turnout of young lady players. The upcoming FHSAA Regional Championships at Dubsdread GC had a significant bearing on our numbers today and many of our new players were female.

Having gained a little bit of knowledge about junior golf in our State we no longer believe that we are the only junior golf tour out there who struggle to attract, and keep regular young lady players. It very much looks like most junior tours do!

Personally I’m unsure of all of the reasons why this is the case. I am a huge fan of ladies golf and while we at Highlander Tour are very lucky to have a small number of regular girls playing all year round with us I would love to know how best to attract and keep more girls into a sport, where the percentage of opportunity for advancement into both college golf and ultimately into the professional game, is so much higher than it is in the hugely crowded equivalent male game!

To confuse matters even further every year that school golf season comes around there appears no shortage of girls ready to play! Where that causes me concern is, and bear in mind this is my opinion only, the majority do not play to a level where you can see too many of them developing into the players they surely would hope to be! Looking recently at some scores from FHSAA Districts it becomes even clearer than it does in the boys game that there appears to be a real shortage of girls who are ready to commit to a regular and structured program of improvement that, in time, will take them closer to the level of the best players who are currently representing their schools.

Highlander Tour was formed in 2019, immediately following a High School season ending, and discussions we had, mainly with young players who had tried out for the team or were on the fringes of playing, and enjoyed the experience. They all said they wanted to continue developing and playing competitive golf. It’s my hope that even a small percentage of girls who are in that position this year will now understand there is a route to continue playing after school season ends and if they genuinely enjoy playing there’s no need to pack up the golf clubs and wait until August 2022 school golf season begins once more!

Dubsdread GC gave us an opportunity we seldom get. With 11 female players ranging in age from 12 to 16 signed up it created an opportunity to field an all girl player flight, The Annika Sorenstam Flight.

We hope all of our young lady players enjoyed the experience. Not surprisingly, given the severity of the Dubsdread GC challenge, there was a wide variance in scores and it was down to two of the most experienced players in the field to contest the medal spot.

Angelica Smith (Lecanto HS) played with us recently at Glenview in The Villages and showed some real quality that day shooting 80. Since then I have been fortunate to watch her play for her high school team a couple of times and she is indeed a very strong developing player.

Angelica started this one strongly making par on the first three holes. The next two resulted in single shot bogey errors. Number six was a real challenge for her as she dropped four shots, something that would challenge the confidence of any young player. Angelica showed great character and called on all of her experience to do what good players do! She put it behind her immediately and concentrated her efforts on only the things she could do something about, the holes to be played in front of her. She did a great job of that making par on seven, eight and nine to close out the front nine in +6(42).

Reagan Chastain (Orlando) was joining us for the second time this year. When we met her earlier in the summer she was recovering from an injury that had seriously set back her golf development. Reagan is an experienced tournament player and we were delighted to see her back in competition once more.

Reagan started the front nine with a bit of everything! A couple of shots dropped at one were dismissed quickly as she made par at two and added the highlight of her first birdie of the day at three! Par at four was helpful for her but what then followed was a disappointing period of three holes that set her back significantly. At eight she showed character and good mental strength to get back to her consistent best making par and then went one better at nine with a birdie three to close off those early holes on a positive. Reagan’s front nine scorecard showed a +8(44). Only a couple adrift of Angelica at the halfway stage.

Angelica’s closing nine was a bit like Reagan’s opening nine, it had a bit of everything in it. A bogey at ten and a par at eleven. Par would be tough to come by until late in the day when she found her best form again to finish the day par-par on the two closing holes. Unfortunately for Angelica too many shots dropped between twelve and sixteen put paid to her hopes of a strong challenge in this one. Angelica carded 42-45-(87)

Reagan hoped for a better back nine and she did a good job of securing it. It wasn’t flawless and highlights were a birdie at fifteen and par made at thirteen and eighteen. Errors were mostly controlled and not overly damaging as most, with the exception of a double at seventeen, were kept to single shot losses. The biggest positive was shaving three shots off her front nine total and that allowed her to post a 44-41-(85) final scorecard. This meant that Reagan claimed her first Highlander Tour flight medal win as our lowest scoring female in The Annika Sorenstam Flight of players.

Congratulations Reagan from everyone at Highlander Tour. It was a big challenge out there for everyone but you showed some real quality at times to get the win!

 

A happy to grab the win Reagan Chastain. Well done Reagan from everyone at Highlander Tour.

The Old Tom Morris Flight

 

Our 15/17’s contested this one. Always a tough and competitive player flight to take a medal and today was no different. There is a lot of quality players in this field but what stood out more than anything is the “Dubsdread” effect as surprisingly the course, and the undulating greens in particular, added a degree of difficulty that saw quite a few shoot higher than expected.

Three players were in the mix for this one from early in the day.

Jason Kaiser Jr.(Circle Christian) is a player we know really well. A hard working and humble young player with bags of ability and great character who has shown at times this year that his biggest enemy in competition golf can be his own high standards and dealing with the mental side of the game when things don’t go his way!  What we mean by that is Jason, like so many junior players with a high level of ability, expects to do well every time he plays, nothing at all wrong with that but as we all know golf just doesn’t work out that way and so it becomes imperative that we find ways to quickly shrug off that missed putt or the drive that goes a bit wayward!

We know how good Jason can be and signs are good that he’s closing in again on the kind of competition form we know he’s capable of.

Jason started this one strongly. Despite a dropped shot at the first he went on to record no less than seven pars on his way to an impressive front nine total of +2(38)

Caden Fockler (Villages HS) is having an exceptional High School golf year in The Villages. It’s become clear he has grabbed the role of lead player of a team that’s in a bit of a transition stage this year. Caden has shown on numerous occasions he is the player that can most be relied upon to put a low number on the board for the team. In addition to that and outwith the school season he has improved as he has been competing regularly where possible. He’s a young man who has an opportunity to achieve his golfing goals if he wants it enough, the signs so far suggest he does!

Caden, by his own high standards, didn’t start this one in his best form. Making par on four of the front nine holes were the highlights with shots dropped on the rest. The positive he can take is that on each occasion his dropped shots were nothing worse than single shot bogeys and that helped keep him in the hunt at the halfway stage. Caden shot a +5(41) over those opening holes and he was looking for better as he began the back nine stretch.

Nicklaus Meyer (Port Orange) played with us once last year from memory. I don’t recall where exactly but whose going to forget the kid with that name? He’s a strong and confident young player who’s played very little competition golf recently. Hopefully after this one he picks up the desire to compete more regularly as he’s proven that he’s very capable of bringing his very best when it’s needed!

Nicklaus too started slowly. Searching for his best form saw him drop single shots early on at the first and second. He made par on three and was unfortunate to double bogey four. At number five his day sprung into life and he finished off the remaining holes on the front nine at level par which included his first birdie of the day at number eight. At the halfway point Nicklaus had carded a +4(40) to sit only two back of Jason Kaiser. The important thing though was that his game was showing strong signs of consistency as he made his way to number ten!

Jason’s back nine run began with par at ten and eleven. An unfortunate run of single bogey dropped shots over the next four holes would make winning this one tough however we know how experienced he is and he battled on to get par back at sixteen. He did the same on eighteen with another bogey sandwiched between to finish his day off with a card of 38-40-(78). It may not be good enough on this occasion to take the low score medal but that’s a strong sign that Jason is getting back to his best!

Caden’s best form had begun at number eight and it continued for the rest of the afternoon. It wasn’t a flawless closing nine but it was very impressive to watch at times as the young man from Ocala added five pars and back to back birdies at eleven and twelve to come home in level par. That’s more of what we are used to seeing from Caden! His final scorecard reads 41-35-(76). Well done Caden on showing great tenacity and character especially on that closing nine hole stretch!

Nicklaus Meyer’s best form, just like Caden, had arrived with a birdie-par finish to close off the front nine. THAT was just the beginning however as he powered his way through the back nine with an awesome display of fine golf. Nicklaus carded no less than three birdies, at ten,twelve and eighteen on his way to a -2(33) back nine total and a final scorecard that reads 40-33-(73).

What a great way to return to Highlander Tour golf that was and what a way to pick up your first player flight medal win ! Great work Nicklaus, congratulations from everyone at Highlander Tour!

He started slow but WOW what a great finish that was to take the low scoring medal. Great job Nicklaus..well done!

The Young Tommy Morris Flight

 

Our 13/14 year old’s contested this one on Saturday. Always a great group to watch as these are the boys and girls who are truly learning to love the game, in many cases a number of these players are experienced in junior competition and have already decided that golf is going to be their main sport.

In an earlier report I think I referred to this age group as “The crucials!” and what I mean by that term is that this is a key age group where the majority of youngsters really decide if golf is for them, or not, in the longer term. Is g something they really want to play competitively or not?

We exist to get as many kids playing as we can and we understand that it won’t be for everyone.

Golf is, in our view, THE toughest sport of all in which to become an accomplished player. It does not provide kids with the shield to shelter behind that team sports do and ultimately it’s ONLY ever going to be about you and your own performance. Couple that with the fact that there are never going to be any guarantees given to you by this game and the fact that one day’s best round can easily be followed by the following day’s worst and you’re hopefully beginning to understand? For any player, young players especially, that in itself can create a level of mental anguish they are highly unlikely to have experienced in any other sport, that’s golf and the personal challenge on any young player’s character is to learn to live with it and understand it can sometimes be that way!

The saddest fact of all is that most kids who play competitive golf, who then decide to stop doing so, are between the ages of 13 to 15. Usually the key reason is the frustration they feel because they feel they are not improving quickly enough. We have already seen many examples of this since we began our own tour and it’s why we feel it is so very important to spend as much time supporting this age group as possible. The only way forward and the ONLY proven way to improve in this sport begins with their desire and commitment to stick with it and we are always happy to talk to kids, and parents, who may be considering walking away from it.

On this occasion at Dubsdread GC lots of our regular players in this age group struggled to shoot their best scores. However that in itself does not tell the full story of the day. We always look for positives and there were lots of them. In most cases there were clearly improvements being shown all over the golf course on Saturday and some of them are definitely worthy of mention.

Tyler Budill (The Villages) improved his front to back nine totals by no less than 12 strokes, a back nine of only 38 was an exceptional achievement for Tyler who’s definitely one of our most improved players of 2021…great job Tyler!

Grady Logan (The Villages) took 9 shots off his front to back nine total at Dubsdread GC. Grady is also a hugely improved player this year and he’s contributing well to The Villages HS team too. Good job Grady!

Palmer Ackerbloom, in his first HJT tournament, was fairly consistent all day long and shot an 86 in his debut tournament. Good job Palmer!

One player in the field however stood out from the rest. Ethan Breth (Maitland) has already won a flight medal with us earlier in the year and on Saturday he made it number two with a fine display of controlled golf. Ethan is a fine young player with a great temperament for the game. He has a strong game and he’s an experienced competition player who knows that tournament wins begin by making par.

On the front nine holes he did just that on seven occasions. Errors made were kept to nothing worse than single shots dropped and at the halfway stage he had played +3 (39) to hold a three shot advantage over the remainder of the flight. Closest to him was Longwood player Reagan Chaires.

On the back nine he took full advantage and stretched that lead even further. It was a dominant and impressive show from the youngster who is accurate off the tee and matches that with a strong short game and a nice putting stroke. Ethan continued his par streak with another five pars made over the closing holes and despite dropping a couple of strokes he also made the best finish of the field on eighteen securing his first birdie of the day!

Ethan took medal number two winning The Young Tommy Morris Flight, of the HJT season with a 39-38-(77). Well done Ethan, a really nice and controlled way to win a golf tournament by playing strong and steady golf! Congratulations from everyone at Highlander Tour on win number two!

** No picture of Ethan Breth on this one as he had to dash off before all of the scores were in. We can however share his scorecard with you all below.

 

The Bobby Jones Flight

 

Our young guns, ages 9 to 12 in this one. the MOST Fun group to watch by far. Great bunch of kids all developing at different levels and there is NEVER any shortage of good play and maximum effort on display.

We deliberately don’t spend too much time concentrating heavily on scores at this level, yes we know they win golf tournaments but the most important thing of all here is that these youngest of players learn good golfing habits, display good etiquette and build their confidence levels for the golfing journey each has ahead of them.

Colton Young (The Villages) was playing his first competitive tournament event with us and could not have picked a tougher venue. Despite that we hope you enjoyed the experience and we are delighted you have taken that huge first step. As long as YOU commit to the game we guarantee you will continue to improve in all areas. Good job Colton!

Aiden Skrocki (The Villages) was dominating his previous age group and this year has taken a huge step up in course yardages he now plays.  Aiden is showing great signs of getting to where he wants to be and he’s handling the challenge well too. Good job Aiden, keep working hard!

AJ Sims (The Villages) gives 100% EVERY time he plays. AJ shaved four strokes off his front to back nine on Saturday and coupled with a great Middle School golf season he too is just going to keep on getting stronger and better. Great job AJ, we are really proud of your development so far!

Zachary Schlicher (Ocala) told me at our last meeting (Harbor Hills) that he was going to shoot a lower score next time out. At Dubsdread GC he did just that shaving three strokes off his last score and he did it on a much tougher golf course. Great job Zach, keep doing what you’re doing and it’s going to get more consistent each time!

Our medalist in this one has played with us three times. On each occasion he has shone and Saturday was no exception! Played three and three medals to show for it is something only a very few have achieved in Highlander Tour and with this one he has now also achieved promotion to our Claret Jug Flight for our consistent 3+ medal winners only.

Herschel Butts (Winter Garden) at aged only 9 is already a very experienced junior competition player. There is no doubt he is an emerging young talent who has great ability and we really are looking forward to watching this kid develop over the next few years. Good job Herschel on your medal win and welcome to The Claret Jug Flight. Congratulations from everyone at Highlander Tour.

Gradually as his medal wins continue we are getting closer to a smile from this young golfer….GREAT job Herschel and welcome to The Claret Jug Flight, you definitely belong there!

 

 

The Player Scores

 

As always there is one final award! As it is now the norm that we add a little extra fun and excitement to each event we do we are delighted to announce that Lexis Smith (Lecanto HS) took the prize in this one for our Nearest The Pin shot of the day. Lexis will collect a $25 Golf Shop Voucher prize from our nearest the pin sponsor Edwin Watts Golf. Well done Lexis, great shot!

Thank you Dubsdread GC for hosting us. It was a great day for all who played. We look forward to returning again soon.

Our final thank you is always our biggest of all. To Todd and Melissa Coon at our Tour Sponsor (TCL -Tri County Landscapes)  thank you for being a huge part of what we do and for your ongoing support of junior golf in our community. More info about TCL can be found by clicking HERE

We are back in action on Saturday 6th November and Sunday 7th November at the number one championship venue in the state and the venue for this year’s FHSAA State Championships, Mission Inn Resort in Howey in the Hills. We are offering players the opportunity to choose to play a single day 18 hole tournament on either the venue for the girls FHSAA State Championship (Las Colinas) on Saturday 6th or the venue for the boys FHSAA State Championship (El Campeon) on Sunday 7th.

Alternatively we are offering you the opportunity to play a 36 hole event, The Mission Inn Junior Championship which will be ranked by both GJGR (Global Junior Golf Rankings) and JGS (Junior Golf Scorebard) on both days. All info and entry cost etc by clicking HERE

Please note the above events are scheduled to be played only two days before the FHSAA Championships begin and as interest is already high we suggest you register as soon as possible.

Thank you for your support of our events and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

Keith

Thank you to our Tour Sponsor.

 

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