Summer is an extremely busy time for junior golfers. In many cases, they are going to multiple tournaments each week to test themselves against the best competition.
Columbia County certainly has some great young golfers as shown by Lakeside’s girls winning the Class AAAA state title. In the Class AAAA boys’ division, Lakeside was the state runner-up, and Greenbrier finished fifth.
During the next few weeks, local golfers will have a chance to showcase their talents at two of the county’s most anticipated events.
The E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship presented by TaylorMade-Adidas Golf is an American Junior Golf Association event and will be held once again at Jones Creek Golf Club. The event takes place July 23-26 and attracts some of the most talented players in the country.
Additionally, the sixth annual Columbia County Junior Championship at Bartram Trail Golf Club is Wednesday. Not only is this for county bragging rights, but it is also free for participants.
Here is an overview of each event:
2012 E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship
This event moved to Jones Creek last year.
Thanks to the hard work of tournanment chairman Dan Troutman and club owners Ray Mundy and Gregg Hemann, it was a smashing success. The American Junior Golf Association was so impressed that it gave the tournament its 2011 “Most Improved Event” award.
Organizers corralled more than 100 volunteers, locked in several generous sponsors and added some touches that made the tournament one of the jewels of the 2011 summer circuit.
This year looks to be bigger and better.
TaylorMade-Adidas Golf is this year’s presenting sponsor. Electrolux, last year’s presenting sponsor, is still on board as the Junior Am sponsor.
The field is a who’s who of top junior golfers in the country.
Among the boys participating is 14-year-old Andy Zhang, who made a splash as the youngest golfer at the 2012 U.S. Open. And while the 2011 boys winner, Austin Pedova, of Hudson, Fla., is now in college, the girls winner, Jessica Hoang, is back to defend her title.
Hoang, of North Augusta, played consistently with rounds of 73-73-73 to beat several much more heralded players.
The top Columbia County finishers from 2011 are both in the field again this year. Lakeside’s Emmanuel Kountakis tied for 11th among the boys, while Eunice Yi, also a Lakeside student, finished seventh in the girls’ division.
Just as they did in 2011, organizers have added several special touches to set their tournament apart.
Unique awards will be handed out to the winners, with the top boy and girl receiving a one-of-a-kind mosaic belt buckle from local artist Paul Pearman.
Pearman’s pieces are in retail outlets from Windsor Jewelers in Augusta to shops in New York City. He has created two buckles that will be presented to the winners.
This year’s event takes place July 23-26 and opens with the Junior Am on the 23rd, which is still open for teams.
To support the event by playing with one of the most talented young golfers in the country, call (706) 860-4228.
Sixth Annual Columbia County Junior Invitational
Bartram Trail head golf professional Robby Watson started this tournament with the idea of having sponsors cover the cost for the players.
The event is open to boys and girls ages 6-18. It attracts more younger players than most tournaments because of the chance to play in a free event, which is an aspect that Watson wants to retain.
“Thanks to the support of our sponsors, we have been able to keep the event free for the kids, and our intention is for that not to change,” Watson said.
Last year, Greenbrier’s Taylor Guilbeau shot a brilliant 68 to win the boys title by seven shots. The girls side was an even bigger runaway as Lakeside’s Elizabeth Kim’s even-par 72 gave her a double-digit victory.
Another highlight was the 3-under 33 for nine holes by 9-year-old Alex Colligan.
This year’s tournament will take place Wednesday and Thursday at Bartram Trail Golf Club and is still open for players and sponsorships.
To participate or to become a tournament sponsor, call (706) 210-4681.