As the final group of our 18 hole competition junior players makes their way off the first tee to begin their round it’s now become customary, at most Highlander Junior Tour events, to see an additional “gathering” of not only young golfing kids but parents, siblings, grandparents and friends too!
It’s been that way ever since we first introduced our Wee Highlanders 6 hole fun competitions!
Typically these youngest of young golfers come accompanied by parents but as a golf loving grandparent of 3 under 5’s of my own I can fully understand the attraction for the rest of the family to come along and add their support to proceedings too, and THAT’s exactly what makes these days so special!
Our number one aim is always to keep these events fun while introducing our golfers to the concept of competition and, unless a player is completely new to the game, we don’t coach or try in any way to manage how they play. The reality is that even our youngest Wee Highlanders at aged 5 already have a good knowledge of the game and a swing that we hope is going to keep them playing our great game for life!
Saturday at Harbor Hills was another fine example of all of the above, phenomenal support from everyone who was watching the action and EVERY shot played was cheered (especially one…but more about that later!) When we watch these kids we are more convinced than ever that this is a powerful way for young golfers to grow into the game and build the confidence required to play competitive junior golf in the future.
Our players on Saturday were Kenzi Kacanich(7) and Eden Wilkins(7) both regular attendees at The Villages Junior Golf Academy. We already know Kenzi really well from previous Wee Highlander competitions (in particular there have been many great moments when playing alongside our other serial medalist Koen Huther(5). Eden was joining us to play for the first time.
You can never quite prepare any young player for the nervy experience of stepping onto a tee, taking aim and making your best swing at that little ball as EVERYONE in attendance is solely focused on YOU! As the old adage says, golf is NOT easy and rightly so we should all be full of admiration when we have the opportunity to watch our youngest step up to play in front of a gathering like this.
Both of these girls can play, there is absolutely no doubt about that! As mentioned earlier we know Kenzi’s game pretty well now, she’s athletic and already has ability beyond her early years. She drives the ball really well and each time we watch her play it looks like she has worked hard to improve her play on and around the greens especially.
Eden too is no beginner golfer . Clearly a little nervous for the first few holes which mirrors EXACTLY the way Kenzi was in her first Wee Highlander competition only a few months back. A few holes in though and everything was starting to fall into place as she relaxed and started to enjoy the experience of just playing some golf with her friend in a wonderful setting!
At this point it is worth reminding everyone that Harbor Hills greens were playing tough, WAY tougher than normal! Last week it was the job of 144 PGA Professionals playing a LOCALiQ competition who had to navigate their way around the slopes and breaks of these greens and now, playing the very same greens, it was Kenzi and Eden.
Scorecards can be a necessary evil for any golfer. They not only give us a final number to remember (or sometimes to forget!) but they tell a story too. Eden’s scorecard showed exactly what you’d expect early on, a new experience, some nerves and THEN it all changed….everything began to look brighter as drives got straighter and longer, chips got closer and putts started to drop! The experience became much more enjoyable as this extremely capable young lady golfer finished the final three holes 5-6-6….now WHO wouldn’t be proud of that finish at Harbor Hills ?
Kenzi is a fine young player who, in junior terms, is a Wee Highlander competition veteran at the grand old age of 7!
She appears to have fun out there and it shows in how she plays..she looks like she’s doing great handling any pressure that she may feel, hopefully that means she’s not feeling under any? For everyone else and any neutral spectators watching, including our very own HJT staff, we are thrilled to play a small part in watching her progress.
Kenzi recorded 32 strokes in total over the 6 holes at Harbor Hills (4-6-7-4-6-5) to take another Wee Highlander medal home. The very best of the day she kept until the final shot on the 6th green….and it’s effect and reaction was felt way beyond its location!
Study the image below and make your own mind up about the distance of the putt. 35 feet ? Possibly more ? However long it is look at the start point and then how low Kenzi is to the hole…now put yourself in that position and think how much pace you need to put on that ball….and then remind yourself once again that Kenzi is a 7 year old WEE Highlander !
You’ve guessed it by now right? Kenzi Kacanich made THAT putt on THAT “PGA” green at Harbor Hills to finish off her latest competition!
At the time this happened most of us were back at the clubhouse and welcoming our players in who were finishing their 18 hole competition…and as they arrived many wanted to know what was happening in THIS match as they had heard the roar and cheering on the other side of the golf course! What a great moment, what a great putt Kenzi…it was truly special!
It was a great way to finish the day. Both Kenzi and Eden did a fantastic job out there and we are very. In the end Kenzi got a medal but Eden got a new experience and a taste of what junior golf competition may look like as she grows. We hope it was one she will repeat many times in the future as she has already shown how capable she is when she learns to enjoy the experience.
Thank you everyone who came along. We really appreciate your support and we hope to see you all again soon. We head to Red Tail GC in Sorrento this week (Saturday October 10th) followed by a visit to Eagle Ridge GC in Summerfield on Saturday October 17th.
We would love to host a Wee Highlander at each venue (assuming of course that we can secure at least two entries to allow us to do so…making THAT happen is all in your hands folks!)
If you can make either (or both) we look forward to seeing you there, please click HERE to register.