Two new programs offer opportunities for junior golfers in Yampa Valley
Steamboat Springs — A new approach to junior golf this summer has given Steamboat Springs High School golfing coach Andrew Donner an optimistic view of what it could bring down the road.
“We have a lot of really good junior athletes in Steamboat Springs,” Donner said Tuesday. “What we have not had is the infrastructure for those athletes to grow in the game of golf. There hasn’t been any programs that get them excited to play the game.”
The coach, who also works as an assistant pro and the director of junior golf at Haymaker, is hoping the addition of two new programs this summer will change how competitive athletes in town view the game of golf. In the past, each club has run it’s own junior programs, which has been good for getting children involved in the game of golf and providing a steady stream of athletes to the high school teams. But a collaborative effort this summer has resulted in two programs Donner hopes will bring even more junior golfers to all four courses and a more competitive venue for those players to experience the game.
With the help of the Steamboat Springs Junior Golf Association, all four local courses have come together to form a new tournament series and a PGA Junior League this summer.
“Both of these programs have fun formats that we think will get kids to come out and play golf,” said John Vanderbloemen, with the Steamboat Springs Junior Golf Association. “We think both programs were great ideas that will grow the game of golf among juniors in Steamboat Springs.”
The tournament series is slated to begin June 29 at the Steamboat Golf Club. Other tournaments are scheduled for July 21 at Rollingstone Ranch, July 30 at Catamount and Aug. 7 and Haymaker. Golfers will pay $25 to take part in each of the tournaments.
Golfers 11-13 will play 9-hole events, and older golfers (14-18) will compete on an 18-hole format. The tournaments will be individual match play and are designed to give local players a chance to compete in tournament-level events on local courses. Prizes will be awarded at each of the tournaments, plus overall points will be kept for end-of-season awards.
Donner hopes the tournament series will provide an opportunity for local players to take part in tournament-level events without having to travel out of town. He is also hoping the local tournament series will encourage young golfers to seek other tournament events hosted by organizations, like the Colorado Junior Golf Foundation and the American Junior Golf Association.
The tournament series will not be the only new opportunity for local players this summer, however. Donner said Steamboat will also start a new PGA junior league open to players between 9 and 13 years of age. Younger players will be considered, but must secure a course professional’s approval before being allowed to play in the league.
The teams of 10 players will represent each of the four local courses in a summer long match play league. Each team will play four, 9-hole matches at each of the courses event using a scramble format. Each week the teams will face a team from another course.
There is no cost to join the league thanks to the Steamboat Springs Junior Golf Association, and participants will be decided on a first-come, first-served basis. Donner said golfers should contact the course at which they play to sign up for a team, and if too many golfers sign up at any one course, they might be shifted to another. The Catamount team will be made up of members, but if the team is not full as of June 1, the public can contact the pro shop (970-871-9200) to see if more golfers are needed for the team.
‘“We are really hoping to get 40 golfers to come out and take part in the league,” Donner said. “”We are going to do our best to see that every child that wants to be a part of a team, can be a part of a team.”
Donner said he has met several times with Catamount Golf Pro Luke Brosterhous about the state of junior golf in Steamboat Springs.
“What we needed to do was create an environment to grow the game and an opportunity for young golfers to take their game to the next level,” he said.
The two came up with some new ideas, but he added it would have been impossible if not for the energy the ideas got from all the local courses and the Steamboat Springs Youth Golf Association. The money to support the programs comes from the Steamboat Springs Shootout, which will take place at the Catamount Golf course on June 1. To register for that event, contact Vanderbloemen at 970-846-8014.
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