Golf program to begin season

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Union County Junior Golf Academy-Tour director Eli Morris, left, helps Kaleb Cox with his alignment during the kickoff of the program on Saturday at Darby Creek. A clinic was held for young golfers, prior to the start of the 2019 season. The first tournament will be held Tuesday at Darby Creek.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Kevin Behrens)

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Mackenzie Collett follows through on her shot during a 2018 tournament of the Union County Junior Golf-Academy Tour. The 2019 season begins on Tuesday at Darby Creek.

(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)

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A long-running youth sports program will begin its season this week.

The Union County Junior Golf Academy-Tour (UCJGAT) will swing into its 17th season Tuesday with its first competition at Darby Creek.

The program began under the direction of former local golf pro Greg Rutherford and Fairbanks High School boys coach Larry Morris.

The two came up with the idea of providing a localized program in which young golfers from Union County could play in a competitive nature during summer break.

There have been other youth golf programs in the central Ohio area, but this one primarily caters to youngsters in the county.

Over the years, many golfers from the Marysville, Fairbanks, North Union and Jonathan Alder school districts have played on the circuit.

A number of them have also gone on to play for their school teams.

Morris told me the idea for the program was formulated as a way for local youngsters to be able to play on all of the courses in the county.

Those are the courses, he said, they would play many matches on during their middle and high school careers.

The program has also provided a way for golfers from different areas in the county (and some from out of the county) to meet and make friends with those they will be playing against in future years.

Ken Collett, the golf pro at Darby Creek, has been involved with the program for several years.

He provides clinics for youngsters who compete in the circuit at his home course.

I’ve seen Collett work with the younger golfers in the Premier Division and he is a very good, patient instructor for the children who are ages 7-9.

Golf, like tennis, is sport that folks can continue to play well into their adult lives.

It’s also a place in which many business deals are struck to help further an area’s economy.

For that reason, the local program has done an outstanding job of preparing youngsters for that part of their futures.

Morris, who is the athletic director at Fairbanks High School, stepped aside from the program a couple of years ago.

His son, Eli, who formerly served as a girls golf coach at Marysville High School, has taken over co-directorship of the program.

The younger Morris has had big shoes to fill from what his father accomplished with the program, but I feel UCJGAT will continue to thrive for years to come.



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