I believe it’s fair to say we have been really pleased with the way our tour’s relationship with the senior management and decision makers of The Villages Golf has grown over the last two years.
To give you just a brief snapshot of our history, that’s just about as long as Highlander Junior Tour have been in existence. As residents ourselves of the USA’s largest 55+ community (The Villages) it was always our hope that we could someday be offered the same opportunities to play on these exceptional Championship Venues as those lucky, and golf obsessed, residents who now call home here!
In 2020 we played one single day event in The Villages. This was to become our “test event” for the future. Not surprisingly we had a very strong turnout and a great day at the magnificent Lopez Golf Facility. In 2021 so far we’ve enjoyed 4 glorious days of competitive junior golf at Glenview Champions in The Villages including two single day events and a memorable Junior Open Championship won by Longwood youngster Riley Sillaway.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our young players, parents and spectators at these events for helping us enormously to achieve this goal. Today Highlander Junior Tour are the ONLY independent junior golf tour who have access to these venues and that’s down to YOU! It’s as a direct result of us bringing respectful junior players who are always mindful of their on course behavior and who care for the venue and their parents and spectators who in turn are the most supportive group of golf supporters out there! Thank you all!
This visit to Glenview Champions was our 32nd Tournament of 2021 Season. It’s hard to believe that we’ve done this 32 times this year and yet we still have so much to look forward to ahead of us in the last quarter of the year including even more new venues like Dubsdread GC in Orlando, The Monarch at Royal Highlands in Leesburg and, not one but two, Mission Inn State Championship Preview days AND then there’s the small matter of our final Major of 2021, our Season Closer (11th and 12th December) Claret Jug Championships where no less than 3 junior golfers, one from each age range category, will take home a Claret Jug Trophy! At the same event one player will also become our Champion Golfer of the Year 2021.
So that’s just a little taste of what’s ahead for us! For now though it was time for our Highlander players to take on Glenview Champions and once again the turn out of players and the quality of the field really stood out.
School golf season is well underway and our entry field was packed full of top players and strong contributors from numerous school rosters. In fact I counted 15 different schools were represented in this one! This does not come as a surprise to any of us here and at times it may sound like a cliché but it’s a hard and indisputable FACT that the best school team players only become that by challenging themselves in tournament golf and events like this ALL year round!
We do think/hope that message is slowly getting across and as a result we are certainly seeing more young players joining, and competing more regularly, which suggests they understand this is the only way to be the best you can be in our sport!
It’s always great to welcome new players along to our tournament events and this one was a little different as we were welcoming so many! No fewer than six debut players joining us for the first time! Welcome to new girls Lexis and Angelica Smith (LeCanto HS) and Payton Sowell (Citrus HS) and our boys Aidan Martinez (Lake Mary), Zachary Schlicher (Ocala) and from The Villages, Ryan Marinaccio.
Welcome to Highlander Tour everyone, we hope you had an enjoyable day and we do hope to see you back again soon!
Once again this one turned out to be another great day of exciting, and challenging junior golf played over the Fox Run and Stirrup Cup Courses at Glenview. Neither is ever an easy prospect. We begin our round up of results by player flight order and first up is our Claret Jug Flight. As a reminder to those of you who are new to Highlander Tour our Claret Jug Flight is the only flight that is NOT age based. To gain entry to this flight each player, regardless of age, must achieve promotion by winning 3 medals during the current season. Our Claret Jug players therefore represent our strongest and most consistent low scorers over the course of a full year (season) of play.
The Claret Jug Flight
It’s tough to win a low scorer medal in any competition! It will always requires a combination of factors to work in your favor. Of course this is GOLF so playing ability has to have its place, that part is a given in this flight as ALL participants are serial/multi medal winners. Good fortune and no shortage of determination and character will always play a part too!
The outcome of this one was a great example of how that determination and character are every bit as important to who eventually shoots the lowest score. It was in abundance today across this flight of players.
Golf is NOT a sport that ever guarantees anything to its participants! How often do we see that perfect round when everything we do goes completely to plan? How often do we report a great front nine that looks like it could end up being a round in the 60’s that doesn’t quite end up that way? It happens a LOT and that’s exactly why you need a strong character and a determination to keep giving your all, your best effort, all the way till the last putt drops!
Bobby Jones Potash (Eustis,FL) led the way! An exceptional front nine start that was flawless and highlighted by birdies at 7 and 9 and everything else was made in par! We saw great ball striking and a hugely talented young man show us all once again just how good he really is! At the halfway point Bobby led the field with a -2(34)
Elle Folland (The Villages HS) was the closest to challenge with a really consistent front nine of her own. Now, in her Senior High School year, we are always thrilled to see Elle playing with confidence and once again enjoying tournament golf. Elle and her family have been huge supporters of our tour since we began and she has been a great influence and role model for so many of our younger players, girls especially. Elle’s consistency on those opening holes kept her in contention and resulted in a +1(37) at the halfway point.
The back nine here at Glenview (Stirrup Cup) is a tough closing stretch that’s given us so many great memories and exciting moments already this year. Could this be another ? On this occasion it would need someone to bring something very special indeed if Bobby’s form was going to continue in the same manner as before.
Elle is a hugely experienced junior competitor who only concerns herself with her own game. She understands fully that earlier used phrase I used about golf NEVER giving guarantees to anyone. Her approach is simply keep playing to your best and let’s see if we can make things work to our advantage!
On this occasion keeping it as consistent as those earlier holes proved tougher for her. A +4(40) on the back meant 37-40-(77) would be the best she could muster. It was a decent day for Elle who can and will certainly shoot lower than that on other days but positives in there included the fact that she worked really hard all day and any errors made were kept to the minimum of nothing worse than single shot bogeys!
Bobby started the back nine as he finished the front. A birdie at 10 and it looked like possibly that perfect round scenario just got a little bit closer? Unfortunately his first dropped shot of the day came up at 11. It did however look to be a one-off error though as he got right back to it in a positive way and made par on each of the next three holes ..from 12 through 14!
His confidence was knocked once more on those closing holes and it required all of his strength of character to steady things. 15 through 17 saw him drop shots but luckily nothing worse than bogey. His par finish on 18 showed nerve and composure, especially for one so young, and when his card was complete it showed 34-39-(73). It was yet another medal win, a Claret Jug medal win, for the youngster from Eustis.
We want to also make a special mention too to the other successful Potash junior…Maggie! Despite it not being a medal day for her (Maggie shot a 79 today) we wanted to say a huge well done for the effort that was required to do so! As our, very gifted, Maggie plays her High School golf for the boys team of First Academy, Leesburg she was asked today to play from the boys blue tees. These longer tees represent close to 1000 yards additional distance over her age based ladies tee box! Under those circumstances that 79 represents an exceptional job Maggie and it further highlighted what a strong and composed young player you have become, well done!
Congratulations Bobby Jones Potash from everyone at Highlander Tour, an exceptional front nine and a determined battling back nine got this one done! This one represents your 6th medal win of our 2021 Season. What a season it’s been so far for Bobby!
The Old Tom Morris Flight
On this occasion and due to the large field of entries/ages this one was contested by our 15-17 year old boys and girls. this would be our biggest player flight of the day with 11 players competing for the low scorer medal prize. Of the 11 players in the flight no fewer than 6 have been flight medal winners this year. Competition like this is great to have, for the players though it always means you will need to post a strong number to take the Old Tom Morris Medal home!
Brandon Godfrey (Ormond Beach) was the first to lay down a marker by starting strongly. A birdie at the first, par on two and another birdie on 3 and par at the 4th is a bit of a dream start. Unfortunately at 5 and 6 he gave a few back again before getting back into his rhythm and securing par on the closing 3 holes of that front nine.
Brandon is a fine young player with a great attitude. Good players realize that during each competition round there are going to be highs and lows and you have to deal with each and move on quickly from the. Brandon did that well and led the field at the midway point carding a +1(37).
Delaney Sillaway (Longwood) has been a flight medal winner twice already with us this season and we don’t have any doubts she should have secured a few more however, frustratingly for Delaney, her progress in tournament golf was abruptly halted a couple months back when she sustained a wrist injury. We have all missed watching Delaney compete at these events. She is a hugely talented young lady with a powerful game and we see signs that she certainly has the strength of character needed to take things to another level in her chosen sport.
Delaney’s first tournament since injury started consistently. Par secured on one and two was interrupted with a frustrating bogey at three. Par on 4 was followed by more frustration as shots were given back on the stretch from five through seven. A welcome birdie at eight helped keep her close to the top of the halfway leaderboard. Delaney finished the front nine with a bogey 5 at the par 4 ninth to record a front nine total of +4(40). Not her competition best form just yet but still lots of positives to be taken from those early holes for Delaney.
Angelica Smith (Lecanto HS) also did well to keep close to the top of the halfway leaderboard in her debut Highlander Tour event by carding a +5(41) over those early holes. Angelica showed a lot of good form and strong golf to record 6 pars over the front nine and with the exception of one frustrating hole (Number 5) she would have been even closer to the leading pair.
Brandon began the back nine displaying the best of the form he had shown earlier in the day. A birdie at 10 was followed by 4 pars and it had begun to look like he was going to be too strong for anyone to catch at this stage. Remember that phrase I used earlier ? The one about golf never providing any guarantees ? Unfortunately for Brandon, things were about to change and a door was going to open for others to get right back in the challenge for this flight once again.
Brandon had a tough closing stretch as three of three of the four closing holes all resulted in dropped shots. We all know how frustrating that can be and how much it can test our strength of character. Brandon did put those errors behind him quickly and made par on the last to close off his round with a 37-42-(79) …a decent showing but under the circumstances we can fully understand his frustrations. This was very much a case of what it could have been but that’s what golf can quickly do to us, we play tournament golf to learn these things can happen to us and we learn to deal with them and quickly move on. We know Brandon has already put it behind him, good players do!
Angelica Smith’s back nine performance kept her right in this one. A birdie at 10 and par made on 4 of those closing 9 holes showed she is a really strong and spirited competitor and we really do look forward to seeing more of her play. Angelica’s final scorecard reads 41-39-(80)..good job Angelica on a fine Highlander debut performance!
Delaney began the back 9 knowing she would need to improve on her front nine to stay in the mix and the birdie secured at 10 was a great way to start a fightback! 11 and 12 were not helpful to the cause as they resulted in bogeys though from a positive perspective they were nothing worse than single shots dropped. 13 and 14 were safely maneuvered in par. When Delaney made par at 16 that was the point when it became clear that she needed to par both of the closing holes to shoot 78 and secure her third medal win of 2021.
17 is a short par 3 and never an easy one to negotiate, for Delaney it resulted in a bogey 4. The picture was now even clearer! Make par on 18 and a play-off with Brandon awaits….OR …could she finish it off on her own terms with a birdie for the outright win?
Number 18 at Glenview Champions is a GREAT finishing hole. It already holds so many memories for us as a tour and, believe it or not, quite a few of them already involve both of the Sillaway juniors! This year alone we’ve seen both heartache and joy unfolding in front of us on that green, now was Delaney about to add her own chapter with something special to finish the day in style?
Number 18 needs an accurate drive and a steady and accurate iron into it’s large back to front sloping putting surface….Delaney ticked both of those requirements off and by doing so gave herself a birdie opportunity, one with the added pressure of a tournament win if it can be made…incidentally do you want to know how many of our total field of 30 players did NOT manage to secure a birdie 3 on that final hole?
The answer is 29 of them! Yes, as Delaney’s ball dropped into the cup she became the ONLY player to birdie 18 that day, more important though she became our Old Tom Morris Flight medalist AND by doing so she also secured a promotion to our Claret Jug Flight alongside our other top medal winning players for Season 2021! Delaney carded a 40-38-(78)
What a great way to finish off a tournament comeback for Delaney, and what is it about creating drama at 18 at Glenview and these Sillaways? Congratulations Delaney on a character building and well deserved medal win from everyone at Highlander Tour. Welcome back young lady!
The Young Tommy Morris Flight
Our 13 and 14 year old’s contested this one. I am always interested to see how these play out with this age group of players. I sometimes refer to them as ‘The crucials”! (explanation coming up!)
These are the mid-age range junior golfers who are not only learning to compete under these tournament circumstances but they also learning most about themselves as they do so!
We are very lucky to have gathered a great bunch of these kids and on any given tournament day, this one included, you will see a huge variety of personalities on display. Of course you can then add to that you will also see a big mix of scores as each is at a different developmental stage in their game, with some having played for almost as long as they could walk, and others having only fairly recently taken up the sport.
Personalities differ hugely too and a big part of this is of course age. Each players actual hope and expectations of what they can do is another big factor and of course it’s not only the players expectations that has an influence as you will know if you watch parents and grandparents reactions as they follow along with play!
We (Highlander Tour) as you know have not been in existence that long however it is our genuine belief and now it’s coupled to our experience that these are the general age group kids that need more support than any other. They are the young golfers more likely to quit playing tournament golf before they have had an opportunity to be the best they can be. We have no great desire to create the next Tiger or Jack or Annika, don’t get me wrong THAT would be nice however our main desire is to have as many kids as possible loving and playing our great game for life.
For that to happen we have a collective duty especially at this “crucial” stage of their lives to do our very best to ensure they are enjoying the experience as much as they can. Similarly, if we believe they are not, and they have thoughts of giving up we need to do everything we can to understand why and help wherever possible. Golf is tough as the phrase goes, it could well be at it’s toughest when you’re 13/15 with high expectations that need to be managed properly.
This flight of players represent a huge amount of future talent and the effort they put into each tournament never changes. They give maximum effort each time they play. Almost half of this flight have been previous medal winners with us so it’s always going to be a tough ask to pick a low scorer among them.
Braxton Williams (The Villages) started with par at the first before things got a little bumpy for him. 3 shots dropped over the next two holes before he regained his consistency and made par at four, five and six. Braxton is one of our most experienced youngsters, who’s been with us from the beginning of HJT, and that experience is crucial at times when not everything goes your way! He handles it well, he’s calm and he’s never been known for rash decisions. Retaining that temperament will definitely help him as he progresses on his golf journey.
Holes seven and eight tested him again and he welcomed the arrival of a par at nine. Despite the occasional bumps Braxton did what we expect of him though and he hung in there to sit at the top of our flight leaderboard at the halfway point with a +6(42).
Katie Allen (The Villages) would sit two strokes back of Braxton’s score at the halfway stage. Katie is another of our juniors that, like Braxton, we rate very highly indeed. She is gradually learning how to deal with the highs and lows that tournament golf will bring and we think she’s handling things pretty well. Katie previously shot her best score (78) of 2021 season here earlier in the year before taking time away from our events to concentrate her efforts on Middle and High School golf. Unfortunately, on this occasion and despite her best efforts, Katie just couldn’t find the consistency needed to keep that challenge alive on the back nine holes.
Chris Tatro (The Villages) was four strokes back of Braxton at the halfway point. Despite a couple of disappointing holes he was finding his best form at just the right time as he finished the front nine with birdies at seven and eight! Chris has played well in both of his last two events with us and there have been times when that little bit of luck every player needs has just not been with him. He’s playing well and striking the ball better than he ever has and the signs are there that this last quarter of the year could be really significant in terms of his development.
The closing nine holes were exceptional for Chris. A +2(38) scorecard represented an 8 shot improvement on the front nine and there were numerous highlights in this one. 5 pars and another birdie were enough to guarantee he achieved his best ever 9 hole total and his lowest ever tournament score with us. Chris finished 46-38-(84). Well done Chris! Hopefully this represents a great confidence boost for the next stage of your development.
Braxton’s back nine started like the front. It challenged him again to pick himself up and keep working and that’s exactly what he did. A birdie at 12 helped and from that point in he played consistently enough that when par was not made he controlled any errors by keeping them down to a single shot loss. When his final putt dropped on 18 his scorecard read 42-41-(83). That would be enough to secure The Young Tommy Morris Flight medal and it would allow us to welcome this hard working and talented young man back into the winners circle once again!
Good job Braxton. We are delighted to see you rewarded for your efforts and we hope this one is just the first of many successes you enjoy in the months and years ahead!
The Bobby Jones Flight
Our youngest players. Our 9/10 year old’s in this one and as we usually mention these are often the juniors we want to watch most! No fear, almost no anxiety (with the exception of their parents!) and just kids enjoying themselves and learning to compete and develop.
They are a great bunch of young golfers and these are the kids we hope we will have around for the next 8/10 years …can you possibly imagine how cool will that be?
Like all groups, yes, even at this age level, some of these young players are more advanced than others. That’s the great thing about golf right? Even our experienced 10 and 11 year old’s have become role models for younger and same age kids just taking their first steps into competition golf !
We are in awe of all of you “young guns” for coming along to these events and challenging yourself. Well done to you all and just keep following the only proven route there is to become an accomplished player PRACTICE-COMPETE- REPEAT..it is that simple!
When it comes to scores we don’t usually like to concentrate too much on these where our youngest players are concerned but today we will make a bit of an exception.
Rhett Kirkland (Wildwood) is one of those “experienced” 10 year old talents we mentioned earlier! He’s a wonderful young man from one of the most humble and supportive families we know and Rhett is another who has been with us from the beginning of Highlander Tour. His development continues to advance in the right way and as it does so it’s always interesting to see the individual traits they display on the golf course under tournament conditions.
Rhett knows his game and he’s a match for anyone when he’s on it! He works hard and he expects to play well and that’s exactly how it should be, you should always be confident in competition! The only issue we ever see with our youngest players is they also have to learn the hard stuff and at such a young age the hard stuff for players like Rhett can be pretty tough for them to take as it’s ALL mental and therefore it can become emotional!
A relatively “new to the game” 10 year old misses a putt and shrugs it off. A stronger developed 10 year old often can’t do that immediately, why? Well more often than not its because of the difference in expectations each has of himself or herself and the pressure that brings…the new kid is just learning to get the ball in the hole, the experienced kid, and I’m using Rhett as my example, EXPECTS to make it and then can occasionally feel bad when he doesn’t!
It’s all a part of the growing up game and learning not to be too tough when it comes to the expectations you have set will make you enjoy the game even more as you develop!
Rhett Kirkland stood out from the rest in this one. A front nine total of +4(40) with 7 pars was good but what was to come was even better! The back nine began with a birdie. A couple of errors followed, the kind of errors that perhaps in the past would have resulted in a loss of concentration? Not on this occasion, Rhett got stronger and more confident as the round went on and how about this for a finish from a 10 year old ?
Par-Par-Par-Birdie-Par-Par ! That adds up to a level par back nine total and an overall winners scorecard for Rhett that reads 40-36-76. Great golf Rhett, well done young man and congratulations from everyone at Highlander Tour.
What made this one even more special was Rhett, our Bobby Jones Flight Winner, was picking up his third medal win of this season and as such this now means immediate promotion to our elite Claret Jug Flight of players for the rest of 2021. Fantastic effort Rhett and good luck for the rest of the season!
Shot of the Day Award
It was our birthday girl Elle Folland (The Villages) who made it and in doing so Elle picked up a $25 voucher for our Shot of the Day sponsor Edwin Watts golf in Lady Lake. Good job Elle and Happy 18th birthday from everyone at Highlander Tour!
So that rounds off nicely another great visit to The Villages and the exceptional Glenview Champions. Well done to everyone who played and congratulations to our lowest scoring medal winners.
We finish as always by thanking our Tour Sponsor for the support they provide us and their commitment to junior golf in our community. Thank you Todd and Melissa Coon of TCL (Tri-County Landscapes) More info on TCL HERE
We hope you have enjoyed our summary and look forward to welcoming you to a Highlander Tour event soon. Check out our upcoming events HERE