Let’s start this one by getting the only negative out of the way…..it was COLD, it was very COLD!
This is the point in our story where our growing band of HJT followers from Scotland are laughing their thick wooly socks off as they really don’t understand how I can be writing this, clearly after only two years on this side of the big pond, and as much as we hate to admit it, it would appear that Fiona and I no longer posses our “Scottish weather hardiness” that we built up over 50+ years living in a climate where Saturday’s temperatures would be a sign that summer was on it’s way!
Anyway, we’re sure the sun will be back soon in all its glory and normal service will be resumed so let’s put that weather gripe behind us.
Saturday was a little different for us. In addition to hosting our normal GJGR ranked Junior Competition we added an additional flight of adult players. We did bill this as an additional fun element, and we hope it was for everyone who took part, but there was a serious point to it too and this should be noted.
We are full of admiration for every single one of our participating junior players who compete regularly in our competitions. Regardless of age they ALL show great strength of character, courage and resilience to step up and challenge themselves the way they do in a sport that can, easily and often, frustrate more than it delights us while playing it! When you add in the pressure element of competition and you are working hard to produce your best score it’s important that we sometimes remind ourselves how that feels for them.
What better way to do so than walk in their shoes for a competition round alongside them? We do clearly have some strong players in our parent ranks but after Saturday’s competition I have yet to find one who was completely happy with their own score and overall performance, in a way that’s a very good thing to hear, as it serves to remind all of us that golf competition, even when its for fun, can be tough on its players. Our HJT juniors deserve all of the support we give them!
We had another great turnout of junior players on Saturday for this one, our Competition 2 of 2021. In total 27 juniors were seperated into 3 flights by age. We welcomed a number of new players along who were all making their HJT debut on Saturday. Welcome to Nate Kearns(Peachtree City, GA), Delaney Sillaway, Phoenix Wilson and Chase Wilson all from Longwood,Fl. It’s great to have you along with us, we hope you felt welcome and enjoyed the HJT competition experience.
The Old Tom Morris Flight:
Our most experienced and senior players aged 16-18. It was a tough day for scoring for all and scoring could best be described as inconsistent for most. When we go back and look at this flight our winning player certainly didn’t have things all his own way. After posting a front 9 (42) Hunter Lewis( Belleview HS) sat in third place behind Cody Royston(Melbourne) +3 (39) and Caden Fockler(Ocala) who was showing great early form and posting a best in field front nine +1 (37) in tough conditions. Well done to Caden on that standout achievement!
Things can change very quickly in competition golf as we all know and fortunes reversed for Caden and Hunter on the back nine holes. For Caden it was unfortunate as problems on 11 and 12 put paid to his challenge at around the same time as Hunter was charging forward and building a really consistent final nine tally of his own. Very few mistakes and a very impressive +2(38) resulted in a final round total of 80 for Hunter which was enough to take his 1st HJT Flight Winner medal of 2021.
Congratulations on a great win and fightback to Hunter Lewis from everyone at HJT. Last week he came close too and we are all hopeful that we are now beginning to see the best of a fine young man and a very popular young player who works extremely hard on his game.
Hunter took the win by 4 strokes from joint runners up Jonathan Ring(Rhineland Cutlery) and Marcelo Celi(Casselberry,FL)
The Young Tommy Morris Flight:
Our 13-15 aged group of boys and girls. Seven players in total in this one including a new player to the HJT competition scene. Delaney Sillaway. It was a tough day on the greens for Delaney in her first start with us but she has already shown us a bit of character and some very fine golf. A fine start and we really are looking forward to seeing you play more in future events.
There was not too much movement at all on this leaderboard as one young player we know very well indeed made her intentions clear right from the first tee. Maggie Potash (Black Bear GC) has had quite a month in golf and particularly with HJT! For those who haven’t yet got to see Maggie play she is an exceptional young ladies golf prospect. Maggie plays with a maturity that goes way beyond her early years and she really is one to watch out for. In competition golf she shows very few weaknesses and we love having her play in our competition events.
In the last month alone Maggie has played a huge part in our Claret Jug Trophy Champion Golfer 2020 event, finishing tied with two fellow players after 36 holes and eventually ended the year as our Championship runner-up after a thrilling 3 extra hole play-off. Last week in her first HJT competition of 2021 it took another extra hole play-off to separate Maggie and Elle Folland with that one going in Maggie’s favor this time.
At Summerglen Maggie showed early on all her experience and consistency to shoot a front 9 +2(38) that gave her a 4 shot lead over the rest of the field. Despite a few setbacks on the back 9(42) that early lead would be enough to ensure Maggie can now boast played 2, won 2 in HJT events this year! Congratulations Maggie once again from everyone at HJT, a fine achievement and a great show of resilience once again!
Runner up in this one is a young man working hard to make a big impact in junior competition golf and High School golf this year. Trace Kirkland is beginning to show real positive signs that his hard work is beginning to pay off. Trace finished only 4 back on this one. Good job Trace, hopefully 2021 is going to be a great year for your development.
The Bobby Jones Flight:
Our youngest group of players (9-12) and for many of us this is often the most fun group to watch as these kids are often at different levels of development in their game. They always entertain and show great enthusiasm with most clearly enjoying the opportunity to get out and play the best they can.
Saturday was great for all the neutrals watching as this flight of players performed more consistently than all of the others and it threw up some real competition among these young players. No fewer than 5 players finished within only 2 strokes of each other and it took a short-yardage extra hole play-off to eventually find a flight medal winner!
Our players worthy of special mention were: last week’s Flight winner, Riley Sillaway(Longwood,Fl) 82, Rhett Kirkland(Wildwood,Fl) 82 , Keating Holland(Ann Arbor,MI) 81, Phoenix Wilson(Longwood,Fl) 80 and Bobby Jones Potash (Black Bear GC) 80.
Amazing to have such a great array of talent in this flight of young golfers and over the course of this competition the medal win could have gone to any one of them. Well played boys, each of you deserves great credit for playing as well as you did on a tough day. We cannot wait to see each of you develop even further through the competition year and keep playing your part to make this young group of players the best we’ve ever had!
As you can see from the above this one went to a play-off between Bobby Jones Potash and debut boy Phoenix Wilson. Phoenix had shown us he has great quality and fine ability throughout the day, clearly he’s got some good experience and a very strong game already and he understands that a good score begins with shooting par as often as you can, taking opportunities to better that whenever you get them and keeping any errors down to a minimum. Phoenix found that birdie opportunity on 12 and made it and he kept everything else consistent all day, like all young players things do go wrong occasionally but mistakes were never worse than bogey all day long.
We may not know too much about Phoenix at this stage but we do know a lot about his play-off partner Bobby Jones Potash. He may be one of our youngest regular players on our junior tour but, and just like his older sister Maggie, he is another exceptional prospect. Bobby is a regular medal winner with huge experience of competition golf and most weeks you will find him either top or close to the top end of the leaderboard.
The play-off scenario that faced us emerged late in the afternoon when the weather was at its coldest and the light was fading really fast. Play-offs have become pretty popular in HJT competitions over the last few weeks and we believe it is the fairest way to try to separate tied players. Under the circumstances going back to the tee boxes on 18 would have been difficult so a 100 yard lowest score play-off into 18 was decided.
Play-offs usually end with a putt being missed and one made and on this occasion it was Bobby Jones Potash who sunk the winning putt to take his 1st Flight winners medal of the year. Congratulations Bobby from everyone at HJT and very well done to both players for battling throughout the day and for displaying fine sportsmanship at all times.
Nearest the pin Winner:
Last prize to announce in this one is to our junior winner of Nearest the pin competition. Rhett Kirkland took the prize this week. Disappointed to not be in that play-off after a great display, especially on the front 9, hopefully this helps make up for it a little. Our prize is a $25 Edwin Watts voucher and our sponsor for the nearest the pin today was Rhineland Cutlery(Jonathan and David Ring) Thank you for your support Rhineland Cutlery. More info on them can be found HERE
It was quite a day for us at Summerglen. Thank you to them for hosting us, it may have been cold but the welcome is always warm from the staff and management there. Thank you to all of our attending parents and supporters and thank you to our adult players for being fine sports and turning the clock back to the bygone days of your youth and playing alongside our talented juniors. Most of all though its a big thank you to our junior players for challenging yourselves in competition each week on our tour.
Next up for us its Ocala GC on Saturday 16th January. This one is going to be very popular and its already close to selling out. If you are quick you might be able to grab one of the remaining spots. More info on that one HERE
Our next few weeks events are filling up too and we advise not to wait too long. Please add the following dates and venues to your diary:
Saturday 16th January @ Ocala GC, Ocala
Saturday 23rd January @ Red Tail GC, Sorrento
Saturday 30th January @ Harbor Hills CC, Lady Lake(TBC)
Saturday 6th February @ Eagle Ridge GC, Summerfield
Saturday 13th February @ Mission Inn Resort, Howey-in-the-Hills
All of the above are available to book HERE