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Rayside-Balfour Canadians
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017
The next wave of junior golfers in the making
2017-08-03
by Randy Pascal

With the buzz that junior golf in Sudbury is currently enjoying, perhaps the time is right to try and revive local competition at that level.

At least that's what former NCAA golfer Casey MacNeil is certainly hoping.

MacNeil has started small, introducing a Junior Ryder Cup circuit that will see kids competing on the various Golf Sudbury courses in the region. "I've been working at the Academy (at Timberwolf) for a few years now, and Tom Clark has been suggesting that I start my own league for a while now," she said. "It's the one thing kids don't have here."

"We thought it would be fun for the juniors to do a team competition, allow the kids to get to know each other." Initially targetting young golfers from eight to sixteen years of age, MacNeil has found an initial grouping of three teams primarily at the lower end of that range.

"It seems like they are having a lot of fun, actually," stated MacNeil. "I've been doing a lot of prizes, closest to the pin, longest drive. And they're not just playing for themselves, they're playing for their team, trying to get points."

With many a local adult not really introduced to golf on any kind of regular basis until well after their teenage years, MacNeil is among the proponents who would suggest that being exposed earlier would help make the game a lot more fun in later years.

"It's easier for kids to pick up the sport, I would definitely agree with you there," she said. "Kids are just so resilient. If they hit a bad shot, they don't think too much about it, they just hit another one. And it's easier for them to make changes, because they're not groomed into these bad habits, they're more open to changes."

After three weeks of play, the standings are as follows:

Connor, Miguel and Noah - 11 points
David, Liam and Matthew - 11 points
Alyssa, Lea and Vanessa - 8 points

In other news, Lea Lemieux advanced to the final round of the Acura Junior Skills Golf Challenge National Event, and was invited to compete at the national playdowns during the course of the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Course late last month.

The challenge is based on accuracy of drives, chipping, irons and putting, with Lemieux ranking fourth in the country following the regional competitions that were held, Canada wide.

Preparing now to compete at the 2017 Canada Summer Games, Sudbury's own Tristan Renaud came close to completing the junior sweep in Ontario. After capturing the stroke play championship earlier this month, Renaud would advance through to the semi-finals of the 2017 Ontario Junior Match Play Championship before losing 4 & 2 to Freddy D'Angelo from Fonthill.

D'Angelo was dropped in the final by Taylor Beckstead (4 & 3) of Alliston. Meanwhile, Renaud will be joined by Beckstead as well as Kelvin Lim, with the girls team comprised of Monet Chun (Richmond Hill), Ellie Szeryk (London) and Sarah Beqaj (Toronto).

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