Harbor Hills Country Club proved to be a great choice for the return of the Highlander Junior Tour and competitive Junior Golf to resume on Saturday afternoon. This event was our inaugural Highlander Member-Only (Social Distancing)Invitational 18 hole competition and we were delighted to see so many of our supportive members in attendance. In total we received 29 member entries with players ranging in age from 9 to 17. As usual our competitors were each flighted into one of our three age based flights namely The Old Tom Morris, The Young Tommy Morris and The Bobby Jones flights.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Leimberger and his team at Harbor Hills for hosting us with an extra special mention due for the team at the cart rental barn. As many of you know we now live in different times, social distancing has its challenges and yesterday we witnessed how even the process of getting a golf cart for our large group of players,parents and spectators can be difficult…..a big thank you to the Harbor Hills cart team for being patient and professional and ensuring everyone who requested a cart got one before their tee time!

Another point worth making here is aimed at all you folks who think that Junior Golf matches are typically slow, 5 hour affairs! Yesterday, to help maintain everyone’s safety and to aid social distancing we played in pairs. Our first group played in 3 hrs and 25 minutes and every group finished in less than 4 hrs! Well done to all players for keeping up a good pace, this is a great habit to adopt going forward as no one playing our great game enjoys slow golf!

Harbor Hills is always a challenging prospect for our players, lots of elevation changes and some tough greens to read and score on. Yesterday was no exception with only one player in the field recording a sub-par score and only our three flight champions recording scores in the 70’s.

The first of our Champions needs no introduction to anyone who follows the Highlander Junior Tour. A stalwart of our competitions and a young man who has been successful in Junior Golf in Florida for many years who is now experienced enough to know what it takes to keep striving for the win. Jack Panigoni. Jack’s 76 was enough to take the Old Tom Morris medal by 5 strokes from second placed Michael Woodley. Congratulations Jack!

Next up was our biggest flight of the day and our mid-range juniors. There are so many talented young players fighting it out in this flight ….yesterday we counted at least six of the players in this one were previous Highlander flight champions! For those of us lucky enough to watch some of their play it’s incredible to think these players are still developing and improving their game and still have the benefit of time on their hands to achieve what they want from the game. This is part of what makes Junior Golf so rewarding for us all. Our eventual Champion in The Young Tommy Morris flight is no stranger to winning on our Tour – Bella Dovhey. In the last few years Bella has become a hugely successful and highly accomplished young player. With a professional manner and great attitude to winning its easy to forget she is still only 12! Bella took the Young Tommy Morris Champions medal with a 77 winning by 4 strokes from another previous Highlander Winner Quinton Barnhill. Congratulations Bella!

Our youngest players battle it out in the Bobby Jones flight. Seems like there’s always a story to tell in this one and yesterday threw up a real good one! Age groups 9-11 compete in this flight of talented youngsters and its easy to see how good the future of the game looks when you watch these kids play, dedicated, professional and determined are all words associated with these youngsters …they clearly already love the game and are desperate to better that last score every time they play. At this age and even during competition we do like to keep reminding them that golf is fun, keep practicing, keep competing and enjoying it and scores will come.

One talented young player yesterday gave us all something to talk about and enjoy. Ryker Huther gave a junior masterclass as the only player in the entire field of 29 to shoot under par, -2 under and an impressive 70 to be exact including a sublime chip in birdie witnessed by a crowd of (socially distancing) players and spectators on 18! Every part of young Ryker’s game looked good yesterday and he was a happy smiling well deserved winner of the Bobby Jones flight Champion Medal. Special Congratulations to Ryker on a great round of competition golf and your second winners medal on the Highlander Tour in 2020. Runners up in this flight yesterday was Rhett Kirkland.

So there we have it, another great day of Highlander Junior Tour golf. Thank you to all of the parents and spectators for supporting all of the players in such a sporting and encouraging manner but MOST of all thank you to every player who challenges themselves by competing. We are very proud of each and every one of you. Hopefully everyone had some fun playing and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Next up we head to Eagle Ridge GC. Next Saturday 16th May. Registration is open and more details at www.highlanderjuniortour.com/registration

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