Stillwater News Press

Sports

July 28, 2012

Junior golfers to converge on Lakeside for South Central PGA event

STILLWATER, Okla. — Few things are going to keep Kate Goodwin from winning the Eskimo Joe’s Stillwater Junior Golf Championship — and triple-digit temperatures isn’t one of them.

Goodwin, a Tulsa native, braved the heat to play a mid-afternoon practice round at Lakeside Golf Course Saturday with winning a championship on her mind.

“It’s really exciting, but it can be nerve-wracking sometimes,” Goodwin said. “I always want to win, but when I don’t it’s kind of heartbreaking. You know, you can’t win every time.”

Goodwin will be one of 120 participants ranging in age from 9 to 18 who will descend on Lakeside Monday to participate in this year’s tournament.

“This is going to be the largest junior stop on the South Central PGA Tour,” Lakeside Golf Pro Michael Henderson said. “We’re really excited that our facility has drawn that much interest. It’s exciting to know that we have that many people who want to participate in it. ... As far as numbers go, this might be our largest event of the year so far including all corporate events and private outings.

“We’re going to embrace it with open arms. We’ve got the facility ready. We can actually accommodate many more golfers. It’s just what we want to do is get them off of the golf course fairly quickly because many of them are traveling from all over the state.”

Goodwin knows the competition will be tough on Monday. A sophomore-to-be, Goodwin played the course for the first time Saturday and has been soliciting advice from other golfers throughout the week leading up to the tournament.

“It’s a treat,” Goodwin said. “The tournament will be my second time playing out here, but I feel kind of honored to play here. I actually talked to one of my older friends who plays for a high school. He said that this course was pretty easy but it can play tough. It’s a good high school course and I’ve actually enjoyed it.”

Henderson said an event this size needs a big sponsor. And there are fewer places in Stillwater bigger than Eskimo Joe’s — which will be the major sponsor of the tournament for the first time.

“I went to Stan Clark and Kendra Moreland and approached them about getting involved in the tournament,” Henderson said. “We we’re really happy that Stan has decided to put his company’s name on this event. It basically is an indicator of the quality of the event and the trust with the golf course that we’re going to conduct it properly.

“It’s tremendous that he’s willing to help us out,” Henderson said. “Golf is a great game. It teaches life skills — it teaches honesty, integrity, playing fair within the confines of the rules of golf, sportsmanship. It’s a perfect vehicle to partner with. It’s a very wholesome thing. I was so excited when he decided to do this with us and hope he continues to see the value in it.”

With 30 more participants from last year’s tournament, Henderson said he has noticed that more and more younger kids are starting to catch the golfing bug. But after hosting last year’s tournament Henderson said he and his staff are more prepared this year.

“Every tournament is a work in progress,” Henderson said. “Each event is unique, and this one will be different because there will also be a large number of parents here. We’re expecting 300 to 400 people to be out here when it’s all said and done.”

Henderson said the biggest challenge hasn’t been keeping the course playable despite the warm weather, but making sure that each staff member knows their responsibilities to ensure that the players are safe with temperatures expected to exceed 100 again Monday.

“Another one of our sponsors is Ozarka, and they’ve donated cases and cases of water for the tournament,” Henderson said. “With all the parents and our staff, we should be able to keep everyone hydrated and cool. We want to be on top of everything because the last thing we want is one of our participants to get dehydrated and not be able to finish.”

As far as plans for next year, Henderson said he’s got a couple ideas but he’s going to wait until after this year’s tournament to see how they can get even more golfer to come to Stillwater.

“The thing about it is that we’re in a great location — right between Oklahoma City and Tulsa,” Henderson said. “Just the increase in numbers from last year shows how well we’re running things. Of course, the kids get to go to Eskimo Joe’s afterward, so that’s a big plus for them. We’re just going to see what works and what doesn’t and then kind of move on from there.”

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