The tour plays in Wayne, Oakland, Livingston and Washtenaw counties and is open to all age and skill levels. (Photo: Submitted)
Calling all junior golfers 6- to 18-years-old: The Kensington Junior Golf Tour kicks off its 14th season Monday, June 17, in Howell at Faulkwood Shores Golf Course with 29 summer tourneys to follow in Oakland, Wayne, Livingston and Washtenaw counties.
“Kensington is the most affordable junior golf tour in southeast Michigan. And it’s the only junior tour that caters to all age groups and skill levels,” said Farmington’s John Dillon, assistant tournament director. “We expanded it further by opening a new age bracket for 6- to 9-year-olds last year. The 6-9-year-olds play with an adult or parent caddie, starting each hole at the 150-yard marker.
“When you sign up for the tour, the first two tournaments (Faulkwood on June 17 and the Huron Hills tourney in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, June 19) are complimentary with your tour membership,” Dillon said. It costs $60 to join the KJGT. Members are eligible to enter any events they’d like, playing as many or as few as they want to. Fees average $20-$25 for 9-hole events, and $30-$35 for 18-hole competition. Golfers may register at www.kensingtonjuniorgolf.com.
“The 9-hole developmental division we added last year was met with resounding appreciation,” said KJGT founder Nathan Oake, Hartland High School boys’ varsity golf coach and a 20-year PGA professional. “This group will tee off at 150 yards on par 4s, 200 yards on par 5s, and usually play the shortest tee on par 3s. We will use the ‘double par’ rule, and we certainly encourage parents to caddie/coach their kids while they play. The emphasis is on learning the game and the flow of playing a round of golf.
“We also offer these playing opportunities for junior golfers: 18 holes for 15- to 18-year-old boys; 18 holes for 12- to 14-year-old boys; 18 holes for 12- to 18-year-old girls; and 9 holes for 7- to 11-year-old girls and boys,” Oake said.
“The Kensington Junior Golf Tour started with a 12-event summer golf schedule in Livingston County in 2006. Three years later, we added 10 events in Washtenaw County and have since added events in Oakland and Wayne counties,” Oake said. “Our mission is to provide a local, affordable, organized and fun competitive junior golf schedule for young players to develop their golf abilities and fall in love with the game.
“Local high school golf coaches have heaped praise on our organization as a great way to help students learn the competitive side of golf prior to entering high school and trying out for the golf team. Many courses on our schedule are host sites of high school matches and tournaments,” added Oake.
Kensington also is making it possible for junior golfers to play courses at a greatly discounted rate, and to receive instruction. “‘Youth on Course’ is an initiative in conjunction with the Golf Association of Michigan to help remove the financial barrier for kids to play golf,” Oake said. “Our organization purchases a YOC membership for each player, and they also receive a free GAM membership. More than 60 Michigan golf courses allow YOC card-holders to play golf for $5 during certain windows at the courses. It’s a wonderful initiative to help grow the game.”
Golf lessons are available through the Golf Leadership Academy. “The Golf Leadership Academy is a wonderful group of golf coaches who completely support our mission,” said Oake. “They offer outside teaching/coaching at Walnut Creek in Lyon Township and Western Golf and Country Club in Redford Township, in addition to indoor, year-round instruction at their facility in Farmington Hills. We fully endorse their work on character education as well as golf instruction, and they do the same for our program.”
KJGT events are set for June 21 at Lyon Oaks GC; June 24 at Coyote GC in South Lyon; June 25 at Eagle Crest GC in Ypsilanti; June 26 at Hartland Glen GC in Hartland; June 27 at Hilltop GC in Plymouth; and June 28 at Kensington GC in Brighton.
For details and information on July competition and championship play in August, visit Kensington’s website or Facebook page.