Tumwater Valley Golf Club Offers Comprehensive Junior Program, Spring Tournament

O Bee Junior Open Tournament
Jordan Baird and Sarah Laurence were the winners of last year's O Bee Junior Open Tournament. Photo courtesy: City of Tumwater

Submitted by The City of Tumwater

Several years ago, the Olympia area’s original First Tee Junior Golf program, located at the Yelm Highway Driving Range, was discontinued. That left a large void in junior golf that was felt throughout this community. Tumwater Valley Golf Course (TVGC) has stepped in to fill that void and for the past three seasons their First Tee program has averaged a whopping 400 youth participants.

The junior golf support hasn’t stopped there as TVGC has been creative in meeting the increasing demand with offerings such as a weekly Junior Golf League in spring and summer and a PGA Junior League – structured similarly to youth baseball leagues complete with coaches, team matches, “all-stars,” and the like. Additionally, the Valley Golf Academy (VGA) was established in 2016 in an effort to help players looking to grow their game and successfully compete at the high school level and beyond.

O Bee Junior Open Tournament
VGA Coach Benjamin Talbot congratulates a young golfer at the 2016 O Bee Junior Open Tournament. Photo courtesy: City of Tumwater

Russ Olsen, VGA Founder explained, “After establishing The First Tee Program at Tumwater Valley, we realized the need to complement our existing youth offerings with a player development program. We now have a complete junior instructional package that caters to all juniors and ability levels.”        

From there it seemed a natural progression for Olsen to feed all of these junior offerings into the O Bee Junior Open Golf Tournament, bringing kids together in one competition that is tailored to a wide range of ages and talent levels. When asked what makes this tournament unique and attracts players from all over the area, Olsen commented, “We offer a variety of divisions of play. We cater to those who will be experiencing tournament play for the first time with our 3 Hole division, to the intermediate players competing in the 9 Hole division, on up to the best high school players in the state battling head to head for the 18 Hole title.”  The best score in the entire field last year went to Sarah Laurence who fired an 8 under par score of 64 to take top honors in the girls 18 Hole division!

O Bee Junior Open Tournament
Who doesn’t love a medal? Kids from all around the area are invited to participate in this year’s tournament. Photo courtesy: City of Tumwater

As for the boys’ 18 Hole title, Tumwater High School Senior, Jordan Baird, will be attempting to defend his 2016 O Bee Junior Open Title and looking to best his even round score of 72 from last year.  Jordan started golfing at age 5 and credits his father to giving him the “golfing bug.” Jordan fondly remembers going out to the driving range with his dad and considers him his greatest golfing inspiration. “He was always behind me 100%,” Jordan says. Jordan has played at Tumwater Valley for his entire high school career.

He considers the O Bee Junior Open special because it’s on his own turf. “I feel at home at the Valley and know the ins and outs of the course. It’s like the movie that you can watch over and over again but each time see something that you didn’t pick up on before.”  Jordan maintains a rigorous practice schedule so that he’s always ready for a tournament when it comes up. Continually striving to be better, Jordan says, “I always look for the weak spot in my game then improve upon that until it is the best part…then I repeat that to make a never-ending loop of improvement.”

Jordan is a unique golfer too. He plays “cross-handed” meaning that he holds his club opposite to the way most golfers do.  With this unorthodox grip, Jordan comments that “people do look at me like I’ve never picked up a club before.” After high school graduation, Jordan plans to seek a golf scholarship to attend college and attain a degree in business administration. For now, though, he’s setting his sights on repeating last year’s O Bee Junior Open title.

O Bee Junior Open Tournament
Golf is a sport that can be learned at any age. Why not start young? Photo courtesy: City of Tumwater

This year’s O Bee Junior Open tournament will take place on Sunday, April 23 and registration is open! All youth who register before April 9 will receive an awesome tee prize – a custom logoed Titleist Sack Pack. Titleist will also be on site giving away sleeves of nearly every type of Titleist ball including ProV1’s! Register in the Pro Shop or download the registration form from the TVGC website. All registered players will be personally contacted with tee times and pairings for the event.        

The O Bee Junior Open would not be possible without support from our generous sponsors: Title Sponsor O Bee Credit Union, along with the City of Tumwater, The First Tee of South Puget Sound, Titleist, and the Valley Golf Academy.        

For more information, stop by the Tumwater Valley Golf Club Pro Shop, call (360) 943-9500, or visit www.tumwatervalleygc.com.



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