Course, tourney officials say they're ready to tee off

Sunday, June 17, 2007
Brandon Bowman, 15, of Kansas City practiced for the AJGA tournament with his 8-iron Saturday at Dalhousie Golf Club. (AARON EISENHAUER ~aeisenhauer@semissourian.com)

There will be 60 golfers participating in today's tournament qualifier.

The American Junior Golf Association's Dalhousie Junior Championship won't officially tee off until Tuesday.

But Dalhousie Golf Club was buzzing with activity Saturday in anticipation of an event that will feature many of the nation's premier golfers ages 12 through 18.

"We're just getting things ready, but everything has been going great," tournament director Andrew Greenfield said. "We're excited for the event to get started."

Greenfield is one of 15 AJGA staff members who will be at Dalhousie to help coordinate the tournament. The AJGA is headquartered in Braselton, Ga., near Atlanta.

Brandon Bowman, 15, of Kansas City practiced for the AJGA tournament with his 8-iron Saturday at Dalhousie Golf Club. (AARON EISENHAUER ~aeisenhauer@semissourian.com)

But Greenfield and Dalhousie general manager Andy Deiro said that 15-member contingent, along with Dalhousie personnel, is just the tip of the iceberg for what it will take for the event to run smoothly.

Without volunteers -- approximately 100 strong per day -- it would be virtually impossible to make the Dalhousie Junior Championship go off without a hitch, which is what Greenfield and Deiro anticipate happening.

"We run the events, but we really rely on volunteers," Greenfield said. "The Cape Girardeau community has done such an incredible job embracing this event. It's amazing."

Said Deiro: "We had 60 show up for our first volunteer meeting. We'll have about 100 volunteers every day doing things like directing parking, shuttling kids from the range to the first tee, any number of things that need to be done.

"People don't understand what it takes to put on an event like this."

As Greenfield and Deiro spoke near the tournament headquarters at Dalhousie, the course itself was teeming with activity.

A Srixon Qualifier will be held today as 52 boys and eight girls attempt to earn spots in a field that will feature 108 boys and 36 girls.

About 30 of the entrants for the qualifier were at Dalhousie on Saturday afternoon practicing on a course that Greenfield said lives up to its billing as No. 1 in Missouri.

"This is one of the best courses the AJGA has ever seen. It's in immaculate condition," said Greenfield, whose organization conducts tournaments around the country. "It's an honor for us to be in Cape Girardeau."

Hearing that was music to Deiro's ears.

"It's fun to hear comments like that from the AJGA staff and the kids," Deiro said. "The golf course is in great shape and we're ready."

Today's 18-hole qualifier, set for a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start, will send at least eight boys and two girls into the tournament field [there could be more, depending on withdrawals]. Thirteen states will be represented in the qualifier.

Area boys scheduled to play in the qualifier are Cape Girardeau's Jack Connell Jr., Jackson's Alex Reid and Kelso's Brett Slaten, who attends Notre Dame High School.

Poplar Bluff's Zack Stricker and Dexter's Chance Holden will also participate.

On the girls side, Cape Girardeau's Emily Matthews will try to earn a tournament berth.

Having already secured spots in the tournament are Jackson's T.J. Smith and two Poplar Bluff golfers -- Trent Hillis and Danner McCauley.

Smith and Hillis earned their berths from the SEMO Conference high school tournament while McCauley made it in through a recent qualifier from which Dalhousie awarded exemptions.

A Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament, along with practice rounds, will take place Monday.

The tournament will be played Tuesday through Thursday and 27 states and Canada will be represented in the field.

Greenfield and Deiro said fans are welcome to visit Dalhousie and watch some of the nation's top junior golfers compete.

Although there is no telling who they might be, it figures that some future professionals will be in the Dalhousie Junior Championship field. Tiger Woods is among more than 160 former AJGA members who now competes on the PGA and LPGA circuits.

"I encourage the community to come out and see golf's next generation play Missouri's No. 1 course," Greenfield said. "At one time Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Paula Creamer ... these were them and nobody knew who they were."

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