PGA junior tourney

Dayzie Whitehorse, a Socorro Warriors golfer, driving off on a par three on the back nine. She finished fourth in the 13-15 group with a final score of 108.

The New Mexico Tech Golf Course was home to one of 35 plus events during the 2019 Sun Country PGA Junior Tour on June 23. A summer youth training program that takes place around New Mexico and Texas, 50 registered competitors took to the course with those aged 7-12 playing only the front nine side while 13 and over traveled all 18 holes.

There were five Socorro County participants; Harley Richardson, Luther Richardson and Dayzie Whitehorse from the Warriors team and La Joya siblings Melissa Gabaldon and Maddox Richardson. Harley finished first in the 16-18 girls division shooting a 83 round.

April Esquibel traveled with her two children from La Joya and was carting back and forth to watch them compete. This was Melissa Gabaldon’s fourth year competing with her youngest son, Maddox Richardson having played since the age of two. Melissa recently graduated from Belen high school and will continue playing for Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado next year. Daryl Richardson, her stepfather, is an avid golfer which is what turned the family on to the sport.

“Maddox is still young,” she said. “But Melissa is really working hard to hone her skills at things like this. We will probably go to around eight or nine of the tournaments this summer. Having the kids out here is great. Golf teaches the etiquette and sportsmanship while also giving them the opportunity to meet people from all over the state. You see them making life long friends while the parents get to know each other too and get together at these events all over New Mexico.”

Players teed off in groups of two to three at hole one for the younger group and 6-12 for 13 and over from 9-10:20 a.m. finishing in the hot afternoon weather. Sun Country offers the option of being a summer member but also allots for non-members to pay into events. Golfers can compete in as many tournaments as they would like but it is impossible to compete in all of them as several weekends they overlap between New Mexico and Texas. Points are earned throughout the summer before a tour championship style three day event which this year will take place at New Mexico State University Golf Course.

While not a full on tournament style tour, golfers are measured by performance for the opportunity to get invites to future competitions. Harley Richardson has been invited to a December and January tournament in Arizona and Nevada respectfully. Demetria Fenzi-Richardson was also on hand watching her kids Harley and Luther compete.

“This summer tour is key for the kids,” she said. “They get to play courses and against opponents they wouldn’t typical play with. For example my daughter is currently in 3A but these types of tournaments allow her to compete against kids in 4 and 5A. The really cool thing is watching Luther improve every summer and the impact this has during the regular (SHS) season. Harley played 25 of these tournaments last summer and shaved off 17 strokes from her game during high school play the next season.”

Demetria was never a golf fan and did not consider it a sport until her children and Warriors Head Coach Russ Moore got her into the game.

“It wasn’t until last year when it hit,” she said. “Golf really is like a mirror of life. You come against struggles. There are good days and bad days and ultimately it’s about how you push through those struggles. Seeing the way it builds character and seeing the way my kids enjoy it is what drives me to support them on the course every day.”

As of press time the SCJG has 19 more scheduled tournaments with a Jun 27 event at Rio Mimbres Golf Center in Deming, New Mexico on June 27. The New Mexico State Championships will take place on August 5-6 in Las Cruces.

The next big event for New Tech’s course is a fourth of July Scramble which will take place on July 6. It is a four person scramble with a blind draw of match ups and will tee off at 11 a.m. Members tickets are 20 dollars and 25 for non-members. 52 total slots are open. To sign up give them a call, e-mail, or visit the course clubhouse.