• Bill Caine, Contributing Writer

Junior golf on the rise in Kentucky

FROM LEFT, Moss Hill Junior League members Harper Lacefield, Bradford Lacefield, Cailyn Rogers and Abigail Caine participated in the Drive, Chip, and Putt Friday, June 30. (Photo by Bill Caine Photography, www.billcaine.com)

The Kentucky PGA Junior Tour came to Moss Hill golf course Friday, June 30. The tour features more than 50 events in Kentucky during the spring and summer and features a fall schedule as well. Events are spread out through the season from Paducah to Ashland and feature some of the brightest talents in the state. These events are designed to offer juniors of all skill levels the opportunity to compete and enjoy learning how to handle the competition of tournament play.

"The goal is to provide the chance to compete within an hour of every young player in the state" said Golf House Kentucky Director of Junior Programs Chris Redle. "Many of our players who have come through our tour have gone on to play at the collegiate level and have had amazing careers. Look at what Justin Thomas has been able to do on the pro level. He got his start on our tour."

More than 620 kids are currently enrolled in the tour for this season, and the number continues to grow each year.

The event at Moss Hill also coincides with the Drive, Chip, and Putt taking place at Man O' War Golf in Lexington. Participants in the Drive, Chip, and Putt advance through local and regional qualifiers conducted throughout the United States. Competitors are comprised of boys and girls ages 7 to 15 who compete in separate divisions in four age categories. The player's age is determined as of the championship in April 2018.

"This is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," said Director of Player Development for Golf House Kentucky Kim Shafer. "It's really for kids of all abilities, from kids who have their eyes on Augusta to others who are just beginning."

The event entails each participant getting three putts, three chips, and three drives to try to earn as many points as possible. Awards are given out to the overall champions as well as each skill champion. The event is a great way for juniors to get involved in golf and have a chance to go to Augusta National for the Masters. The numbers for junior golf continue to skyrocket in the state. Piggybacked with the addition of the PGA junior league, the numbers are staggering with how fast the game of golf is growing within the Kentucky junior golf community. Four players from the Moss Hill Junior team participated in the Drive, Chip, and Putt Friday, June 30. Bradford Lacefield, Cailyn Rogers, and Abigail Caine all advanced to sub-regionals at Persimmon Ridge in Louisville in August.

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