Since launching our Wee Highlander Tour earlier in the year we’ve welcomed some great kids, watched some fine golf being played and smiled a LOT at these events!

This event was the last one on our 2020 calendar and it was somehow fitting that it would be played in The Villages as it represent a real home venue for our players and staff of Highlander Junior Tour.

Over the past few months we have welcomed 12 “Wees” in total, aged from as young as 5 up to 9, to these fun competitions for our youngest golfers. For us this represents a positive start, we have really enjoyed hosting them and we have learned a great deal. We hope in 2021 we can continue making them better for our players and everyone who comes along to support them …most of all though we hope we can keep uncovering more of these young golfers looking for a place to develop their confidence and test their golf game against others of a similar age or development level.

We would like to keep reminding you all that we can only make this happen with your support of these events and your help in telling as many parents of wee golfers that you know to consider bringing their youngest along to play.

This one was a fitting way to end our Wee Highlander season. A rematch between friends Kenzi Kacanich and Eden Wilkins. These young lady players are our most regularly attending Wee Highlanders and when they play they never fail to impress us and their many followers out on the fairways. Saturday was no different!

Kenzi (l) and Eden (r) ….golf friends ready to play!

As we always point out in these reports low scoring is NOT what these matches are about. Yes we do add scores and present a medal to the lowest but that’s only a small part of it.

If we are going to introduce youngsters into our great game, and the earlier we do so the better in our opinion, and keep them playing for life it has to be a fun experience. They HAVE to be able to enjoy it. Pressure from any source around them to compete hard and take the experience too seriously and they will very quickly lose the fragile confidence they have gained so far and very possibly drift off to other sports or other experiences.

Over many years working in golf we have seen this happening with other kids not much older than Kenzi and Eden…it happens quickly and in the worst of cases they won’t ever get to a point where they get anywhere close to fulfilling the potential they have shown at such an early age. Without getting overly serious this is why we simply ask everyone in attendance to just support the kids playing and as they get older they will benefit hugely from these early experiences as they take the next step up to play both school golf and regular competition play…hopefully with HJT!

In these matches there’s never a shortage of support for Kenzi and Eden. The girls are really closely matched in ability and each time they now play together this is reflected in the scores they shoot.

These girls get great support each time they play!

In our earliest matches with Kenzi and Eden we could point to a few differences between them, for example areas where one had better technique or was stronger than the other. That’s now very difficult to do as both have such great technique and fundamentals in place already for such young players. Errors in both games can often be put down to a simple lack of concentration on that shot.

Putting is an area where most shots are lost, these girls have little trouble getting to the green but the art of putting (as any golfer will tell you whatever age they are!) is a golf game of its own! On Saturday our Wee Highlanders were faced with exactly the same greens as our older kids playing in our 18 hole competition and ALL of them struggled to shoot low and make putts, think about that when you hear how well Kenzi and Eden performed and you will very possibly understand just how proud we are of how they both performed!

Scoring is NOT that important, it DOES however tell a story and we do recognize it and refer to it at the end of the day. Fun and enjoyment matters more and building, and maintaining, the confidence they have to compete is the ultimate goal however we do still want them to understand they are playing in a competition and learn what it feels like to win, and to not win! Incidentally the latter is something ALL young golfers need to learn whatever age they are and regardless of whether they play recreational golf, amateur competition golf or even professional golf in future..golf is THE toughest of individual sports you can ever choose to play. Golf has never been mastered by any one player since it’s creation more than 600 years ago and in our opinion, never will!

It may sound a little strange but part of what makes our job in junior golf so great is how we can watch kids learning how to win….and more often how not to win! The player who doesn’t win but truly enjoys playing quickly moves on without drama and too much regret. He/she shows they already know that’s just how golf plays out. It’s a valuable lesson to learn in golf and it’s a resilience that will stand them in good stead in life too!

Sportsmanship isn’t lacking in either of these young players. It was Kenzi who took the medal in this one by only two strokes shooting 51. Eden shot 53. Both girls should be extremely proud of their achievements. It was a very tough ask to record such scores especially given just how quickly those greens were running today! Congratulations Kenzi from everyone at Highlander Junior Tour. Well played!

 

It’s another medal for Kenzi..well played Kenzi!

The last time these two played with us we recorded the same result..Kenzi won the medal by 2 strokes. Trust me when I say that to some young golfers this would be pretty devastating news, to Eden though she announced it to everyone with a big smile and then happily posed for pictures by the scoreboard alongside her playing partner and golfing friend. now that is a PERFECT illustration of everything that’s great about golf!

It was about this time that we were reminded of something a bit special that had happened out on the course during this match. Golfers play for many years and always hope for that hole in one shot…and on Saturday Eden’s tee shot came so close that it hit the flagstick, only the golfing gods know if it would have gone in but getting THAT close certainly deserves mention and some recognition. Miss Fiona, our Wee Highlander Manager quickly remedied that situation presenting her with one of our exclusive “Wee Are Highlander” t-shirts! The Eden “smile” just got a little bit wider!

Good job Eden, great shot!

I

And so that wraps up another Wee Highlander match and a great first year for us. Thank you to all of our Wee Highlander players who have participated this year, we are really proud of you all for challenging yourself and playing with us. Thank you too to all of the parents, grandparents and spectators who have supported these events.

We are back on January 2nd at Eagle Ridge GC in Summerfield and then Summerglen GC in Ocala on January 9th and we hope to bring you a Wee Highlander 9 hole match at each venue. At this stage we already have at least one player registered for both events so please, if you can, ensure these can go ahead by adding your Wee Highlander to the event as soon as you can. You can register for these events by clicking HERE

We hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless and always swing easy.

Keith, Fiona and Mark.