JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
A team of youngsters from each Joint Base San Antonio location hit the links for competition in a local PGA Junior Golf League, an experience that not only enhances their golf skills but teaches teamwork.
This is JBSA's first year participating in the league, which ends in July.
Three teams from JBSA and two other clubs from the city play against each other in a handful of weekend matches. Upon the league's ending, JBSA golf officials plan to assemble an "all-star" team of players to send to a regional meet in August.
"The program is unique because it operates like Little League Baseball and lets kids work together in a team setting," Troy Gann, Randolph Oaks Golf Course director of golf, said.
Gann said his squad of 16 youth practices every Thursday and rotates in two-person groups during matches so each child gets playing time.
"The idea is to send out twosomes who substitute every three holes (called a flag)," Joseph Mendez, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston golf course director, whose team consists of 13 players, said.
Pairing children not only reinforces their reliance on a team, but prepares them for middle school and high school golf competition, Brandon Ellis, JBSA-Lackland golf course operations manager, said.
"The league is open to all skill levels, so each child can go as far as he or she wants," Ellis said. "But it's all modeled from the team concept."
Mendez said the junior golf league's debut benefits Air Force members and their family for two reasons: It helps socialize children in the manner of a club, and it gives parents an affordable option.
"At $50 per child, parents are excited to have kids involved in a sport that is considered cost-prohibitive," Mendez said. "The cost covers practices, matches and trophies."
The first match pitted Randolph against Fort Sam Houston, while Lackland played the Northcliffe Golf Club, based in Cibolo.
"I anticipate this getting bigger next year," Gann said. "The kids are all smiles and the parents are having a great time watching them on the greens."
For more information, call the Fort Sam Houston golf course at 222-9386, Lackland golf course at 671-2517 and Randolph golf course at 652-4653.