It was a return to Harbor Hills last weekend for the Highlander Junior Tour and in conjunction with our 18 hole event we had another opportunity to put our competing Wee Highlanders through their paces.
To recap, Wee Highlanders are our youngest group of developing golfers (aged 8 and under) who play holes 1-6 from tee boxes we have laid out on the course and from yardages that are suitable for their age/ability. Greens are normal full size and we play Stroke play golf with a maximum recorded on each hole of 8 strokes.
We believe that this style of golf (fun with a bit of a competition element) is a good way for young golfers to gain valuable course experience and become familiar with the expected behavior and etiquette of golf. At some stage we hope that each of these Wee Highlanders will step up to play in both 9 hole events and eventually join our other HJT players in 18 hole competitions.
For now though we stress to each of them that it’s about having FUN! We know golf can be tough on all who play the game but we also know and can draw on numerous examples that positively confirm all the reasons why we SHOULD be introducing them to the game as early as they start showing an interest and being able to hit a ball using a golf club.
On Saturday we welcomed three Wee Highlanders to Harbor Hills Country Club to take up our latest fun challenge. Kenzi Kacanich aged 7 (The Villages Junior Golf Academy) Koen Huther aged 5 (Eustis,Fl) and Om Khirbat aged 8 (Leesburg,Fl)
All three of our youngsters are accompanied by, on this occasion, a “caddy-daddy” to help with a little support and coaching and, as always, we had a good showing of parents and spectators along to support our players.
Its worth pointing out at this stage that we are always thankful for the support from the sidelines especially as it is given by all in the most sporting manner, despite the fact most in attendance are of course primarily there to support their own, practically every shot made by every player gets a cheer or applause from the spectators…. in fact that’s one of the things we genuinely LOVE about these competitions. And just think of the strong message that sends out to these kids as they play…golf is a game of great sportsmanship and fair play.
All 3 of our “Wees” have played with us before and know just what to expect of the day itself. A short briefing on local rules and each of our players began their day with a drive from the Wee Red tees.
As you may expect all of our players (Wee Highlander AND in our regular HJT events) are all at different stages of development in their golf game right now and while we do complete scorecards, in order to present a medal, its really NOT that important at this stage and more about giving these players an opportunity to experience the course and have some fun playing together.
Koen had a new shaft fitted to his driver recently and even added a little to the length of it…a scary prospect for most but not for this 5 year old. He swings it with confidence and it seldom strays from the fairway. Kenzi has a height and power advantage and a long graceful swing which serves her really well with fine distance from the tee and again its unusual if its ever anything but long and straight. Om is working really hard right now with both his regular coach, and then with dad, and there is no question he is already improving his all round game.
Its always fun to watch how these kids approach the art and skill involved in putting. We see everything in these matches from the player who takes a bit of time to study what lies ahead to the player who can’t get it in the hole quick enough, either way the important thing is they are learning how to play the game and when they play together we know they are more likely to pay attention to what others do and if its necessary, copy what they do if it helps them get better.
Approach shots into the greens and putting are what make Koen and Kenzi stand out at this stage. These shots are what help them both score low and they showed their usual fine form in those areas. In Kenzi’s case that was to be the part of the game that worked best for her and ultimately gave her the opportunity to grab another winners medal taking the prize by just 3 strokes from Koen.
Well done to all of our competitors for giving it your best. Om played some very good shots and scored his best round of golf so far with us, and that’s an improvement to be very proud of! Koen (complete with new driver) is becoming a really tough competitor and is following really well, in big brother Ryker’s very succesful golfing footsteps, and Kenzi just looks to be getting stronger and better each time we see her play.
We hope all of our players and everyone who came along enjoyed the Harbor Hills experience ? We certainly did.
Congratulations Kenzi for working hard to get the win and another Wee Highlander medal to add to your collection.
Wee Highlanders are back next week as we return to Eagle Ridge GC in Summerfield. We hope to see you there if you can make it. More details on this one can be found by clicking HERE