To build up a sport, it is important to keep the fire burning in the hearts of the younger generations.
For the past 36 years, that’s what the Tri-State Junior Golf Tour — now run by Scioto County natives Jason and Joe VanDeusen — have done.
And with their tour set to begin on June 7, when the TSJGT begins the summer season with a trip to Riveira Golf Course in Lesage, W. Va., the father-son duo is excited about what the members and participants in the tour can accomplish in 2018.
“So far, we’ve had a lot of new faces this year that we’re really excited about,” Jason said. “We’re looking forward to another great season of golf on the tour.”
The Tri-State Junior Golf Tour, which was founded in 1982, is, according to its official website, a tour that “offers boys and girls from the ages of 18 and under a chance to play competitive tournament golf at first-class golf courses.” That experience, in turn, is experience that the youngest VanDeusen hopes will go to good use as the golfers on the tour expand and develop their games.
“This tour is about getting kids out and playing in a tournament setting, with more of a laid back atmosphere along with that,” Jason, who has run the TSJGT alongside his father for the past seven years, said. “We try to run things similar to what they’ll see in a middle school or a high school setting. We play to all ability levels and all age levels, and try to get as many kids out as we can in order for them to play, compete, and learn the game of golf.”
As per the norm Scioto County will be one of the stops for the tour on two separate occasions. Following the trip to Riviera on June 7, the TSJGT will make a visit at the Elks Country Club on Monday, June 18 in McDermott.
Then, following a stop at Sugarwood Country Club in Lavalette, W. Va. the following Monday, the tour resumes its play on Monday, July 9 with a stop at the Shawnee Golf Course in Friendship. The beauty of both golf courses, along with the competitive play that they provide and the various challenges that each course presents, makes the Elks and Shawnee courses ideal stops for the tour.
“Besides the fact that my Dad and I have grown up playing at Shawnee and the Elks over our whole lives, we’re very, very lucky,” VanDeusen said. “I believe that people take for granted how lucky we are to have two great golf courses within miles of each other and so close to town. People really take that for granted sometimes. We’re extremely lucky that we have each of those courses. They’re two great facilities that people will travel from all over to play, and we really enjoy bringing some of the Huntington, W. Va. and Ashland, Ky. people to both courses, where we’re from, to showcase the courses that we have to offer, as well.”
In addition to offering tournaments for the 10 to 18 year olds, the TSJGT has also started to appeal to the younger crop of golfers around the Tri-State Area, as well. Under-10 players have been allowed on the tour since 2013, and since that time, the tour has had at least six players competing in that age bracket on a regular basis.
“We started bringing in any kids that were under 10 about six years ago,” VanDeusen said. “We saw a good crop of kids come through as a result of that move. Opening up the game to the little ones has been one of the best decisions that we’ve made since my Dad (Joe) and I have had it. It’s been very successful. Even if we just get a half a dozen kids in those under-10 divisions, that’s at least a start, and we’ve had good success down there.”
A visit to Creekside Golf Course on Monday, July 16 in Lavalette, W. Va., along with a visit to Bellefonte Country Club in Ashland, Ky. on Monday, July 23, rounds out the Tri-State Junior Golf Tour schedule.
Interested youngsters can register on the Tri-State Junior Golf Tour website at www.tsjgt.com. If individuals encounter problems registering on the website, said youngsters can call or text VanDeusen at (740) 285-5004 for more information.