As the Waco Junior Golf Association readies itself for the 30th Annual Waco City Junior Golf Championship on Tuesday and Wednesday at Cottonwood Creek and Twin Rivers, the field might be a little thinner than the past few seasons.
Ray Lamb, the co-founder of the tournament along with Bob Ammon, says the decline is due to the uptick in the number of youth golf tournaments held around the state of Texas. Lamb, who teaches at Baylor, notes that while attendance in the local tournament is down, interest in youth golf is better than ever.
“When we started this thing, we did it because there weren’t opportunities,” Lamb said. “Over the last 30 years, things like the Texas Junior Golf Tour and the Lone Star Tour and opportunities like that have come along, so we haven’t had the outpouring like we have had in the past.”
Youth golf is seemingly as popular as it ever has been, and the interest has spread throughout the country, with tournaments notably raising the fees for participaints. Lamb views the Waco tournament as a less expensive option, providing young golfers a chance to compete at two local courses with great reputations.
“There’s a lot of kids that just can’t afford to play the bigger tournaments,” he said. “This is an opportunity for them to get out and play and learn to compete, and learn to keep score without it being a very expensive thing for their families.
There is still plenty of intrigue, though.
Over the years, the Waco City Junior Golf Championship and Lamb’s golf academy have produced 36 individual state champions, 409 golfers who achieved a college scholarship and 12 who became PGA club pros.
“Because of that, we know it still serves its purpose,” Lamb said. “Every year, we still have two or three young ones that wouldn’t have had an opportunity in another place that winds up being able to play and get excited about golf, and get their parents excited about golf.
“Even if we have small groups, we feel like we provide an opportunity and need, so we are going to keep doing it.”