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Antigua tour opens to younger golfers
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The local golf scene is getting a little younger this summer.
On Monday, many of the area's top youth golfers will open the six-event PGA Yuma Chapter Antigua Junior Golf Tour at Desert Hills Golf Course. The annual tour is now opened up to kids ages 5-18.
“This is kind of unprecedented because in the past, we've had ages 10-18,” Antigua Yuma District director Mark Croft said.
The Antigua Tour will take place at several different courses throughout the Yuma area. The golfers will bounce around from Mesa Del Sol on June 11, Yuma Golf and Country Club on June 18, Cocopah Golf Resort on June 25 and July 9 and Foothills Golf Club on July 2. There are six age divisions for each boys and girls — 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18. In the past, the PGA restricted parents being on the course with their younger children. However, a new rule allows anybody participating in a 9-hole round to have a caddy — most likely a parent.
“What we're trying to do is try and build the tour. The history of the tour has been focused on the more mature golfer, the golfer who's been playing for a long time. Now the PGA is opening up to anybody with an interest of golf,” Croft said.
Golfers who take part in at least three events can build points toward the state championships. Golfers with qualifying scores after the Antigua Tour can compete for the state title from July 30 to Aug. 1 at Antelope Hills Golf Course in Prescott.
Hopefully this go-round, the participation from the local golfers will be a little larger.
Last summer, 46 golfers came to six events, including just 13 players in the final three events combined.
“I don't know what to expect. I hope to see a huge participation from the younger kids. I know from my own coaching, we're seeing a lot of interest from particularly 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds,” Croft said. “It's a grassroots program to me. In the five or six years, I'd like to see it grow back up to 40-50 kids the way it was 13 years ago.”
Antigua Tour events are open to any youth golfer for $15, which includes a round of golf, range balls and awards. Last year, the six-event tour featured several of the top golfers in the area, including Yuma Catholic's Joey Pickels, Grady Bourguignon and Max Coffeen and Cibola girls star Yesong Han, who shot an event-best 77 in last year's tour at Desert Hills.
Visit southwest.pga.com to register or call the Southwest Section PGA at 1-480-443-9002. For more information, email Croft at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by phone at 580-1604. Also, typing email@example.com into the Facebook search bar will bring up Croft's Yuma Junior Golf page.
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson