Sports

Gannon hopes new league spurs youngsters toward golf

Dave Sibley stands on the fourth green at Gannon Golf Course in Lynn. (Steve Krause)

LYNN — There is a nationwide effort underway to get young boys and girls interested in the sheer fun of golf.

That’s what Gannon head pro David Sibley says.

Gannon is one of several courses in the area that will roll out a PGA Junior League program this summer. The Lynn municipal course will be in a league with Beverly Golf & Tennis Club, Hillview in North Reading, Wenham and Nahant.

“In our league, it’s mainly the public courses,” said Sibley. “Some of the private courses have their own league.”

The emphasis, Sibley said, is to get people interested in golf more for recreational purposes than competitive.

“The PGA has already recognized the competitive aspect of golf,” Sibley said, “but in order to get youngsters who will want to go out, and maybe not take it as seriously, who are looking for a more fun aspect of their game, this is what the program was designed for.”

The league hopes to “bring family and friends together around fun, team golf experiences with expert coaching and instruction from PGA and LPGA professionals,” according to a statement by the PGA Junior League.

Toward that end, Sibley said one of the main criteria for clubs hosting these PGA Junior teams is that a registered PGA professional must be on site to teach — and Sibley, as head pro, has that qualification.

Sibley said the league will be structured like many sports leagues. There will be a series of matches in a scramble format — which differs slightly from a best ball format.

“A scramble is designed to create a little less pressure,” said Sibley. “A scramble format keeps it more fun, with just enough competition too.”

In a scramble format, Sibley said, two golfers will tee off, and take the ball they’re prefer to play for the rest of the hole. In best ball, both golfers play, with the best score for each hole being the one that counts.

Sibley said that no prior experience is necessary, and there’s no residency requirement.

“What we’ll probably do,” he said, “is start out holding practices, and start our schedule in June. We’ll play a league schedule, with the league champions going to a state tournament, and then a regional tournament.

“Winner of the regional tournament goes to the nationals in Arizona,” he said. “Those are in November, so it might be cold up here but it’s warm down there.”

And while private clubs might limit teams to their own members, there are not such requirements at Gannon for this program.

“We’re taking juniors from Lynn, and also not from Lynn,” he said.

Right now, Gannon just got its eighth member, which means it can enter the league with a team. But there are still four more slots open, and Sibley would very much like to fill them.

So far he said, the majority of kids who have signed up are those who have taken part in the club youth clinics are are held each July. But for now, the league and clinic will remain separate entities.

“By the time July rolls around, we’ll be five or six weeks into our season,” he said.

He’s optimisic that the club can make a go of this.

“I really think,” he said, “that if we build this up enough, we can have at least two teams.”

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