Thank you to everyone who attended this one on the historic and challenging Mission Inn’s El Campeon yesterday. What an amazing golf course and what an experience for our group this was…we do hope you enjoyed it as much as we did?
Before we begin on the tournament story I want to point out what many of you might have guessed already… your tournament reporter is actually a Scotsman and back over that big pond that separates us, where everyone talks funny like me, we have an abundance of wonderful and storied old golf courses designed by world renowned architects more than a century ago. When you grow up in the place where the game was invented more than 600 years ago we Scots can often become a little bit blasé about the significance and the importance to our great game of such things.
We are living in unprecedented and stressful times where so many discussions around us are critical of history in one way or another. To have the opportunity to take our Highlander Junior Tour to play at a place that positively reminds us of golf’s great history and its early beginnings in the USA was very special indeed.
El Campeon was first opened for play 103 years ago. It is a Championship venue that has stood the test of time and if you haven’t had the chance to play it personally you owe it to yourself to do so. It will challenge players of all levels and abilities and it will NOT be easy to post your best score. It will however be a unique experience unlike most other courses. Yesterday proved to be the case for our HJT players as we heard tales of tough to read greens, championship pin positions and punishing water hazards! Despite everything that made it challenging though most players we spoke to commented it was by far the best course they had played!
Mission Inn Resort Director of Golf Michael Bowery and his excellent team deserve our sincere thanks for ensuring our visit went smoothly. From arranging our procession of golf carts lined up by tee times and bearing each players name and HJT logo to helping out with registration signage and ensuring there was a suitable buffer gap before we played to allow our players to play at our usual brisk place without any significant hold ups. They even sent a member of staff over to help us erect our registration canopy/gazebo before players arrived! Thank you Mission Inn you deserve every bit of your reputation as the number one Championship Venue in Florida!
We were happy to present Michael and Lou Colon with our appreciation certificate for their assistance with yesterday’s event.
Yesterday was another opportunity to welcome some new players to the HJT, Cody Royston, Owen Ingram, Will Browning, Samuel Kosizek and Jose Esteves were all competing with us for the first time. We hope you all felt welcome and enjoyed the opportunity and we hope to see you all back playing with us again really soon.
And so to the story of yesterdays play. Its worth reminding ourselves at this stage that El Campeon has a reputation for a reason. Its tough and its challenging and it does not give good scores up easily to any player. Having some previous experience of playing here can be a bit of a bonus in helping you battle your way around and this was the case with a couple of our winning medalists yesterday.
The Claret Jug Flight:
Our recently created flight reserved for our most consistent and successful junior players, regardless of age, is solely made up of players who have won 3 times or more on the Highlander Junior Tour. Our winner of this flight yesterday is already well known to everyone here at HJT. He is an extremely talented young player who competes strongly and with the highest level of professionalism in every event he enters. Nick knows Le Campeon well from previous visits and yesterday was a fine example of battling through adversity and digging deep to post the best score he possibly could…in the end he posted an 81 which on this occasion was enough to give him another HJT medal to add to his impressive collection.
Congratulations Nick Zarillo from everyone at Highlander Junior Tour.
Old Tom Morris Flight:
Typically our 16-18 year olds compete in this flight and yesterday proved to be a triumph for one of our regular and most popular competitors to show the rest of the field just what she is capable of. Like our previous medalist Elle Folland has gained some valuable experience during a number of previous visits to play in various competitions at Mission Inn and yesterday this knowledge coupled with strong determination and the talent needed to shrug off the occasional bogey hole and immediately come back with par and a few birdies gave her a deserved victory.
Elle posted an extremely impressive 75 to win by 5 strokes from Jonathan Ring and Owen Ingram who both posted battling (80) scores of their own to share yesterday’s Runners-Up spot.
With this win Elle now moves up to our Claret Jug flight for future events. Congratulations Elle Folland from everyone at HJT on a great job!
Young Tommy Morris Flight :
Our talented 13-15 year old’s compete in this flight and it was a busy one yesterday with no fewer than nine players competing for the medal. Two young players that we know very well led the way and both are team mates on The Villages High School golf team….well done to Caden Fockler who recorded another impressive score yesterday carding a 78. Caden is an extremely determined, hard working and resilient young talent who has developed his game a great deal this year. He is now playing consistently good golf and there are clear signs that this will be Caden’s best year yet. We are all excited as we continue to see him develop. On this occasion Caden finished runner-up.
Our medalist yesterday also plays for The Villages High School. Curtis Douglas shot the joint best score of the day on El Campeon with a 75. When you read his scorecard it tells you two stories, one is a battling front nine where 4 bogeys were conceded, the second and most impressive statistic however is a one under par back nine with 8 pars and a birdie! As the High School season approaches clearly Curtis game is coming together at just the right time and we look forward to seeing more of this developing young player. Congrartulations Curtis from everyone at Highlander Junior Tour on your first medal win!
The Bobby Jones Flight:
Our youngest players compete in this flight. Before reporting on these results we need to remind ourselves that we stressed particularly to these younger players that this venue was going to be TOUGH on them especially! With only limited tee box options even the red tees would play a long 4800 yards. Combine that with the difficulty of course we were playing and yesterday was never going to be one where we would expect any of our youngest talents to be shooting their best ever score!
This proved to be the case with most of these players BUT what was apparent from the conversations I had with many of them was they firmly understood why scores were higher than usual (for most) and they had enjoyed the experience of El Campeon….and wouldn’t you agree that big challenges and experiences like this are good for these kids to have at this stage of their development ?
There were two players battling it out for this one. Katie Allen is becoming a real delight to watch play at times. A long graceful swing and a strong work ethic has meant she has already made strong strides to improving this year. We think Katie is developing nicely into a fine young talent in the game and we are delighted that she plays regularly with us..on this occasion Katie ran our medal winner close but had to settle for runner-up this time.
Our winner and making his debut on the Highlander Junior Tour is 11 year old Jose Esteves. Jose was taught to play by his teaching professional dad, also Jose, and even at this early development stage he has a strong desire to play and compete. Jose is keen to play more competition golf and we hope to see a lot more of him over the next few months playing with us. Congratulations Jose from everyone at Highlander Junior Tour on a fine debut win. We hope you enjoyed playing with us.
The end of another event, maybe even our most memorable to date, it certainly was the toughest and most challenging! We will return to El Campeon later this year but until then we are back a little closer to home next week with a trip back to an old favorite. Eagle Ridge GC in Summerfield, FL is the venue next week – Saturday August 1st with tee times from 12.30 pm. Members at $25 and non-members at $35. including range balls. Carts are not included but can be rented for $20+tax from the ProShop on arrival. Registration is open by clicking HERE. We hope to see as many of you there as possible. Thanks everyone for your support.