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Junior golf tour seeing more girls enter game

The McLennan Ross Junior Golf Tour is still popular despite the fact the field of competitors hasn’t grown in recent years.

The tour has added another site to the 2014 schedule, boosting the number of events to 26. Trestle Creek, currently a nine-hole course and located about 80km east of Edmonton, is the new addition.

“It will be our first ever event at a nine-hole course. We’ll double-lap it,” tour executive director Duncan Mills said Tuesday, following a press conference at Wolf Creek Golf Resort.

While the McLennan Ross Tour continues to grow, the number of golfers has not.

“To be honest, the numbers in junior golf in Alberta and North America, for that matter, have dropped in the last 10 or 12 years,” said Mills. “The boom in junior golf was probably 15 to 20 years ago when the likes of Lori Kane, Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, when he was early in his career, were popular. They brought a whole new generation of young people to junior golf.

“Those numbers have declined fairly steadily over the last decade. Now Golf Canada is doing some things and Alberta Golf is doing some things. They’ve started the National Golf in Schools Program and Future Links.”

There’s a number of initiatives underway with the intent of getting kids into the game and getting them to stay in the game.”

On a truly positive note . . .

“The numbers for the kids playing this tour have plateaued the last four or five years, but I did see more junior girls last year which was very encouraging,” Mills continued. “There’s a number of communities in the province and people who are doing things to get more girls into the game and we can always use them.

“That was the one real encouraging thing I saw last year — a lot of fresh faces among the junior girls. We certainly would like to see more boys across the board and just kids in general getting into the game, because guys my age dropping out of the game. We need the young blood coming in and becoming the leaders and the people who are going to be board members and maybe managers and professionals.

“In order to grow the game and make it healthy, we do need more people involved for sure.”

The 2014 McLennan Ross season opens May 28 at Drayton Valley.

The tour will feature just one June event — at Lethbridge Henderson Lake — before moving into a busy July .

Included on this year’s schedule are Central Alberta tournaments at Lacombe July 2, Innisfail July 8, Ponoka July 14, Rocky Mountain House July 22 and Olds one day later. The tour championship is set for Aug. 25 at Wolf Creek.

l Wolf Creek will also host the Alberta Open June 24-26. The tournament will be played on the links course and Wolf Creek director of golf Ryan Vold is confident the track will be in tip-top shape.

“We had some issues with flooding in 2010 which a lot of people probably didn’t know about,” said Vold. “It caused some issues with our course but we’ve basically got it back in good shape. The greens are coming around pretty well and everything is looking pretty good for this year.”

The Alberta Open will feature the best amateurs in the province, along with Alberta PGA players and even a sprinkling of Canadian Pro Tour golfers.



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