Last Updated on Monday, 16 January 2017 05:43 Monday, 16 January 2017 05:32
EDMONTON, Alberta (Gord Montgomery/iG) — Dunc Mills is quick to point out that his junior golf tour isn’t about having players make it to the big time, although having alumni such as Jennifer Ha and Ryan Yip, who have gained full time status on the LPGA Tour and the Web.com Tour respectively doesn’t hurt promotion-wise. But even if they don’t make it to those notable heights there are literally thousands of other young players who have grown to appreciate the game through their experiences after playing on the Alberta-based tour.
Now entering its 22nd year, Mills, the executive director of the tour, said as much as anything the McClennan Ross Junior Golf Tour, Presented by Crowe Mackay, is about young people learning the game of golf and its many intricacies. From this they grow personally, grow their network of friends and grow their love of the game.
And along with all that of course, the junior-aged players from all across the province get a taste of competitive golf.
This year the tour will encompass a total of 27 events, up three events from last year. The tour includes small town tracks as well as big city private clubs and stretches from north to south, east to west. Mills oversees each and every tour event personally, although he is quick to point out he couldn’t do this all on his own. Sponsorship over the years has helped mitigate expenses allowing the kids to play golf at a reasonable cost.
“The sponsorship from places like Koch (which provides him with a vehicle) and the courses opening up their doors and giving us the run of the course for the afternoon (at no charge) is a big thing,” said Mills. “That lets me keep the registration fees at a reasonable rate and all the money from those goes back to the kids,” in the form of flight prizes.
As to the competitive side of the tour, Mills pointed out that this isn’t a place for kids to learn to golf. Rather, he suggests the young players should already have a good basic understanding of the game and are now looking to broaden their horizons.
“This is an entry level platform for kids. This is for kids who are already interested in golf and this is the next step for them,” where they get a taste of what the competitive end of the sport is all about.
What the kids get when they tee it up is a wide variety of courses to test their talents on, including this year a return to Blackhawk GC in Edmonton, which was recently selected as one of this country’s Top 10 courses.
As well, the tour return to places like Innisfail, who have been on board since Day 1, Barrhead, Ponoka, and Lethbridge along with relative newcomers like Trestle Creek Golf Resort and another private club in the capital region, the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and CC, who hosted the largest field of any of the tournaments last year.
The season begins May 27 in Drayton Valley and continues each and every weekend through the summer culminating with the Tour Championship at the renowned Wolf Creek Golf Resort, another track that has been behind this junior tour since the start, on August 28.
For more on the tour, and how to have your junior golf take part, visit their website at www.mrossjrtour.com.
By Gord Montgomery
Gord Montgomery is a retired sports editor of two weekly newspapers in the Edmonton area and is a member of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his ninth year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf and on Instagram at @gordinsidegolf2.