The 2016 Myrtle Beach Chapter of the South Carolina Junior Golf Association Hootie & the Blowfish Chapter Series will tee off on June 13 with a tournament at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.
The series is for players ages 7-17, and this is the first summer the program is being directed by Dale Ketola, owner of Potential Golf instruction at River Hills Golf & Country Club and a former player at Coastal Carolina.
The schedule has nine tournaments including the chapter championship on Aug. 15 at the private Reserve Club in Pawleys Island, which will be followed by the statewide SCJGA All-Stars event at Seabrook Island for top local finishers on Aug. 20-21.
The local chapter schedule also includes afternoon events at Myrtle Beach National’s Southcreek Course, Pine Lakes Country Club, Prestwick Country Club, Myrtlewood’s PineHills Course, Arcadian Shores Golf Club, True Blue Golf Club and the Surf Golf and Beach Club.
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Ketola, who went through the SCJGA program himself as a junior, has big plans for the program that include instruction and a year-round impact, and said the golf community has been receptive of his efforts.
“It has been very receptive, starting with golf courses,” Ketola said. “Every golf course I called was on board. They’re going to help us out any way they can with range balls and getting the kids on the golf course. All the courses have been tremendous.
“This year I tried to spread it out and make the schedule really nice, and it is. If you’re trying to increase participation you have to have something to offer.”
Ketola has also been fundraising to have prizes and giveaways for the participants. Registration is $160 plus $10 per event. They are generally on Mondays and are nine holes for players ages 7-12 and 18 holes for players 13-17. “Kids will get a great value for what they’re paying,” Ketola said.
Registration is ongoing at scjga.org. A registration day, during which participants will receive a goodie bag and parents will meet with Ketola, is scheduled for June 11.
Some instruction will be added to the curriculum this year, and the instruction schedule is forthcoming. Ketola wants to have one clinic per week that changes locations and involves different club and teaching pros in the area.
“I’m trying to create some opportunities for kids to play some good golf courses, get tournament experience and get some instruction,” Ketola said. “We’re working on getting them places to play and practice when they’re not at tournaments or clinics. That’s going to be a big thing. To me a program is something that is year-round and kids are able to participate. I’m a big believer the kids have to be out there playing golf and it’s my job to provide those opportunities.”
Ketola can be reached at 843-833-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.