Fairbanks’ Natalie Parker follows the flight of her shot during the girls’ Division II 2016 state golf tournament in Columbus. Parker is just one of the many golfers who played in the Union County Junior Golf Academy-Tour. The program will begin its 2018 season next week.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The last name is the same, but the Union County Junior Golf Academy-Tour will have a new leader this summer.
Eli Morris has taken over the program from his father, Larry, who was one of the circuit’s co-founders and directors more than 15 years ago.
The younger Morris has followed in the footsteps of his father as both a golf and basketball coach.
He is the girls’ JV golf coach at Marysville High School and also serves as an assistant boys hoop coach for the Monarchs.
The elder Morris, who is Fairbanks High School’s athletic director, previously was the head boys golf and basketball mentor for the Panthers.
“I know I have big shoes to fill,” said Morris. “Dad had a lot of connections and has been around golf for a long time.”
There are currently 39 youngsters registered to play during the 2018 season.
That number is down from the 52 that participated last summer.
“I really wasn’t looking for a huge number, especially since it’s my first season as the director,” said Morris. “I’m hoping we can get 45 golfers as the season progresses.”
There are five youngsters in the Premier Division for those ages 7-9.
“That’s half of what we had in the Premier Division last year,” said Morris.
The Academy Division for those ages 10-12 numbers 14 and there are 20 in the Tour Division for those ages 13-17.
“All of our divisions are down a bit, but I expected that for the first year,” said Morris. “I don’t yet have the outreach of a varsity coach.”
The season will begin with a clinic at Darby Creek on Saturday. That will begin at 2 p.m.
The remainder of the season’s schedule is as follows:
-June 12: Academy-Tour at Timberview, 9 a.m.; Premier clinic at Darby Creek, 10:30 a.m.
-June 14: Premier-Academy-Tour at Blues Creek, 9 a.m.
-June 19: Academy-Tour at Rolling Meadows, 9 a.m.; Premier clinic at Darby Creek, 10 a.m.
-June 21: Premier-Academy-Tour at the Ridge GC, 9 a.m.
-June 26: Academy-Tour at Marysville Golf Club, 9 a.m.; Premier clinic at Darby Creek, 10 a.m.
-June 28: Premier-Academy-Tour at Darby Creek, 9 a.m.
“Our goals will remain the same,” said Morris. “We want to get kids playing golf, because that’s the best way to improve your game.
“It’s also a good way to build friendships with kids from other schools,” said Morris. “I played five years myself in our program and am still in contact with people from other schools with whom I played.”
Morris noted that the experience of playing in the junior association can also spread to the high school level.
“Several of the Fairbanks girls who played in the state tournament for two consecutive years participated in our program earlier in their careers,” he said.
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