It was great to get back to Eagle Ridge GC last Saturday for the beginning of a big year for HJT, and for many of our young players, working hard to develop their game and achieve individual targets and achieve their personal goals in 2021.
For our Wee Highlanders it was another opportunity to get out onto the golf course and practice all the good things they’ve been doing while building confidence and having some FUN!
Recently we made a few changes to how we set up and operate our Wee Highlanders events. The first change was one that was requested by parents and players and that was to extend the number of holes played from our original 6 holes to 9 holes. We were happy to do so and we think so far this has been the right move for a number of reasons.
The most important though is that the kids seem to enjoy the longer experience of playing a few more holes than before and, lets face it, THEIR enjoyment is the only reason we formed Wee Highlanders in the first place!
The other change was lifting any age restrictions we had for players to play in Wee Highlander matches. Again this has proved a worthwhile thing to do as there are so many young players out there who are all at different stages of developing their golf game. Since doing so we have had a few occasions where we’ve had Wee Highlanders as young as 6 playing with significantly older kids aged 9 or 10, in future there MAY come a time too when we may have to consider the players ages and perhaps even have boys and girls playing from slightly different yardages.
I guess what I’m really trying to say to all you parents of Wee Highlanders is this is not a “one size fits all” type of operation. It’s more like a “let’s see what works and if it becomes necessary change what doesn’t!”
On Saturday we had two young golfers playing Eagle Ridge with us. Both of our players currently attend The Villages Junior Golf Academy.
Eden Wilkins is a regular Wee Highlander now and it shows in her overall confidence. Just being around this little lady is fun for all of us! Eden is blessed with great temperament, fine ability and athleticism and in terms of development there is no doubt she is significantly ahead of the curve for her young years.
Cooper Longest (what a wonderful last name for a young golfer!) is also a Villages Junior Golf Academy attendee who was joining us for his first Wee Highlander Challenge. The first thing that strikes you about Cooper is just how mannerly and respectful he is to everyone he meets! He’s a fine young man who already knows better than most how to face up to a challenge. To me a couple of things were very obvious about Cooper, his attitude and his temperament are absolutely perfect for golf! We are delighted to welcome Cooper and his family to our golf tour and we very much look forward to being a part of your golf journey.
Golf is tough…let no one ever tell you otherwise! It’s a sport truly with no equal, its all about you as an individual, it can be an emotional experience at times and the most frustrating game you will ever play when things are not going your way…..BUT, having said all that it still retains the ability to pull even our youngest kids in to play in the hope they will one day master the great game.
Eden and Cooper shared a fun experience on the golf course. Both had fine moments of play and both had less fine moments but, and even at their young age, they displayed fine sportsmanship and the ability to move on and keep smiling after a bad shot or a missed putt. That in itself is a lesson many of our much older players have still to learn!
This will hopefully stand them both well in years to come while playing a game that is so heavily influenced by your emotional state and your temperament!
Prior to play at all of our Wee Highlander matches we do our best to emphasize to our golfers that playing HAS to be fun. Scores are counted but we don’t place huge importance on them at this stage. We do present a medal to the lowest scorer though and we never fail to be impressed either by how well our Wee Highlanders have played or by the numbers on the scorecards they return to us…sometimes matches are close, this one could not have been any closer!
Since Eden started playing with us we have watched her play several matches with her friend Kenzi Kacanich. On each occasion both girls have played well and on each occasion on the scorecard count Eden has got that little bit closer to taking a Wee Highlander medal home. On Saturday she achieved that goal by a margin of 1 stroke.
Another golf cliché often used is that golf is a game of the slightest of margins…in this case it’s definitely true. A win by a single stroke is tough to take for any young player however remember what we said earlier and remember who was playing out this Wee Highlander challenge and be prepared for what happens next…a very happy Eden Wilkins to finally get her medal and an initially disappointed, but now still happy and smiling again, Cooper Longest who was not only happy with his debut performance, and rightly so, but also more than happy to pose for pictures holding the scoreboard alongside Eden.
Both of these young kids are exceptional examples of everything that is good about competing in golf. For those of us who are a great deal more advanced in years it’s wonderful to see how secure the future of the game can be when you have youngsters like this who want to play.
Well done to both players for putting on such a fine show for us all. Congratulations Eden on picking up your first Wee Highlander medal, we are sure there are many more to come in your future. Cooper, you should be very proud indeed of how you performed in your debut competition, we loved having you with us and we are very much looking forward to many more days on the golf course with you. Keep smiling and being you!
Thank you also to the parents and spectators who followed our Wee Highlanders. These matches are THE most fun to watch and your support of every shot played by each player goes a long way to helping them relax more and build confidence. Thank you also for attending and supporting what we are trying to do with this junior golf program.
Next up for us and our Wee Highlander series we head to Summerglen GC in Ocala next Saturday 9th January at 1.30pm. We then have a short break before heading to the exceptional Red Tail GC in Sorrento on Saturday 23rd January . Both events are open for registration by clicking HERE
We hope to see you all soon.