When our HVCC Pros were Junior Golfers

Stand tall, Allen Smith. Your dream, The Hope Valley Junior Invitational Golf Tournament, has already positively touched many lives, both young and old, inside and outside of golf, with many more uplifts yet to come. Congratulations, Sir. Well played.

Now “our” tournament is about to tee-off again in its SIXTH! rendition beginning on Monday, July 31, the practice round, and is evolving as a don’t-miss, three-rounds of competition opportunity, a “redcircle-that-date-right-now-Mom-and-Dad” happening on a plethora of Junior Golf calendars. Whew!

So, one question rambling in my mind, as I was contemplating how to preamble this year’s tournament kick-off, was, “In what ways and how did Junior Golf play into the lives of our HVCC Professional Staff?” I passed out a survey to all of them — and got back interesting responses. You do not want to doze right now.

For our “still youngish” staff stalwart, Brian, Junior Golf was highly formative. But in this Spring’s Mashburn Tourney, during the 14th Hole’s “Beat the Pro” competition, he himself became a golf-course hazard: i.e., his 141-yard wedge shots flew so high that there were diversion warnings to area aircraft. Ha! The balls did fly really high. Well, Brian’s great habits of superior ball-striking began as he was getting into the game at the very-junior age of nine, in, where else, the golf-crazy state of Texas. He says, in the briefest of words, “I had a great time playing Junior Golf.” He became a fixture on his high school team in Leander, all the while admiring Tour players, Justin Leonard and Tom Lehman.

Actually, ALL of our Pro Staff say they were importantly shaped by playing and being around Junior Golf. Our Master Pro, Bob, joyrode into golf at age 10 and says about Junior Golf, “I was very active and regularly competed up until college.” His journal-entry takeaways from playing as a Junior were “Making friends I still see to this day, getting to play great golf courses, and to learn great life lessons.” Some of his FAV Pros in those days were Tom Watson, Bruce Lietzke and Jerry Pate.

As for John, soon to enter his third decade, he reported that he “Played competitive baseball – and lots of golf, on the side, for fun.” He didn’t state who his favorite Pro baseball players were, but in golf they were Tiger and Phil.

And now to Thomas. His feedback revealed that he grew up in Michigan and played with 11 others on his high school team for all of his four years. He wrote, “For me, takeaways from playing and being around Junior Golf would be that it helped me develop the foundation/fundamentals for the way I play the game today. I can not stress [enough] on how important it is to start the game as a Junior.” Not only that, Thomas also played in Regionals both as a junior and a senior. His listing of most-admired Pros in his formative years includes Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples and Ernie Els. [A lazy person would probably have just said, “You know, golf’s Who’s Who’s.”]

Finally, Thomas’s returned questionnaire also included a quote that pretty well summarizes what golf — at any age — might be all about: “Golf is life. Life is golf.”

-by Andy Collins
July 20, 2023