Busy junior golf season under way

05/20/2014 8:36 PM

05/20/2014 8:37 PM

Central Catholic High School’s amazing golf season has been saluted near and far, especially from the officials of the Junior Golf Association of Northern California.

Each member of the Raiders’ team, the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion and runner-up at the NorCal, has gained experience on the annual JGANC tournament circuit. CC’s success bears witness to the ongoing success of the local junior tour that has enriched the golfing lives of thousands of young players.

The 90-tournament JGANC season swings into high gear with about 1,300 young members preparing for a summer of fun and competition. The fee is $95 apiece for the chance to test golf skills anywhere from public courses to the region’s top private and daily-fee layouts.

“We have a great platform for the kids to grow and educate themselves playing golf and meeting new friends,” said Shane Balfour, the former head pro at Turlock Country Club and Diablo Grande who’s in his sixth year as the JGANC’s executive director. “A thing that is unique to us is our Americas Cup teams that provide such a great stage for our young stars.”

Balfour also called attention to the incredible 11-year-old Lucy Li, who became the youngest qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open by shooting 74-68 at Half Moon Bay’s Old Course. Li, an age-group winner at Augusta National’s inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt competition last month, is a resident of Redwood Shores in San Mateo County.

Yes, Li is a JGANC member.

“She’s a little thing, but what a player. It’s great to see success stories like Lucy Li,” Balfour said.

Stevinson Ranch has committed to the JGANC this year by becoming the organization’s official home course. The property, which features top-tier practice facilities and a performance center, is well-suited to its new title. Stevinson Ranch will welcome four junior tournaments to its demanding course south of Hilmar.

The local lineup of JGANC tournaments:

• May 24-25 – Central Valley Junior Amateur, at Stevinson Ranch.
• May 31 – The First Tee of Central Valley Junior Open, at Modesto Municipal.
• June 9-12 – JGANC Championship Match Play, at Spring Creek CC, Ripon.
• June 14-15 – Stevinson Ranch Junior Amateur.
• July 7-8 – The 62nd Bumgardner Junior Memorial, at Del Rio CC.
• July 11 – JGANC/FTOCV 100-Hole Marathon, at Modesto Municipal.
• July 12-13 – Matt Hansen Junior Classic, at Stevinson Ranch.
• July 14 – Oakdale Rotary Junior Classic, at Oakdale CC.
• July 15-16 – George Maroney Junior, at Dryden and Creekside.
• Aug. 4-5 – Turlock Junior, at Turlock CC.
• Aug. 9-10 – San Joaquin Junior Amateur, at Stevinson Ranch.

To register as a JGANC member or to enter a tournament, visit www.jganc.com.

The shag bag – Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin made a passing reference Sunday to Jim Gormley, the swing coach of Lizette Salas, as the young LPGA Tour pro completed her first victory at the Kingsmill Championship. Local golf fans know about Gormley, the former Cal State Stanislaus star (1991-92) and team co-captain. Since then, he’s become the veteran director of golf at Palos Verdes Golf Club. He’s also supplemented his time as a volunteer assistant coach at USC the past seven years. That’s where he met Salas, a former USC All-American who led the Trojans to the 2008 NCAA title. ... USC junior Paul Smith (Turlock) tied for 37th, but his team is NCAA Championships-bound after the Trojans tied with Cal for fourth place at the NCAA Sugar Grove (Ill.) Regional.

Holes-in-one – Steve Rovai, Modesto, 173-yard 12th at Creekside, hybrid. ... Jack Olson, Oakdale, 100-yard sixth at Oakdale CC, pitching wedge. ... Ron Gowans, Modesto, 102-yard sixth at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, pitching wedge. ... Roger Bianchi, Ripon, 125-yard 15th at Jack Tone, pitching wedge. ... Tim Nobles, Manteca, 15th at Jack Tone, pitching wedge. ... Lynn Foret, Tracy, 130-yard second at Jack Tone, hybrid.

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