Author: Charlotte Evans
Can any young person play golf in your program?
Yes. The All-Star team is selected by meritocracy, but we never turn anyone away from the Junior League experience and the program.
How big is your program?
We are fortunate DragonRidge is so gracious, but I don’t want to overwhelm the course, so we expanded two years ago, and we also play at Legacy, which is great. Playing both courses gives us room for expansion. We had about seventy kids in our Junior League program. I’d say one hundred young players overall.
What do you envision for the program in the future?
Next year, there will be a National Championship at Grayhawk [Golf Club] in Scottsdale. The following year in Frisco, Texas. We’d like to attend both. The one in Texas will be televised on ESPN, so I hope to put together a good team. Twelve teams from each division (17 and under and 13 and under) from around the country go to the Championship.
In addition to kids from the Las Vegas valley, I understand you have players who travel here from Kingman, Arizona, to train.
Yes. I’ve got probably ten boys that I’m working with who travel from Kingman and about six girls. It’s an hour and twenty-minute drive each way for them, so they’re serious about their commitment to golf. It’s neat to work with them.
It seems you have a lot of girls playing.
We have a high percentage of young female golfers in Las Vegas, and we’ve got girls who are nationally ranked. There are some incredibly good girls here. College coaches are looking at Vegas as a hot spot for girls’ golf.
Why do you like coaching Junior League golfers?
At my age, I’ve done well, I’ve worked hard, and I could probably retire if I wanted to. But I don’t, because of the kids. The kids have really rejuvenated me. It’s fun to work with them and get them going and get them into golf. I think it’s such a healthy pastime to have for everyone. It gives you perspective about life.
It does seem like golf is one of the sports that instills values. Can you elaborate on that?
Coming into golf, you learn the honor system. Honesty. You count correctly. You don’t forget to count a stroke because you didn’t like it. You call your own fouls. There are no referees. Also, we teach respect for the game and for fellow teammates. I like to reinforce teammates. You want your fellow players to be better, and you want the team to be better. The obligation is, if another player hits a bad shot, can you help them do it better next time? We’re reinforcing all the time the idea that hard work pays off. Some adult golfers might not agree with that (laughs.) Golf is a vehicle to teach core values and honor.
What do you like about DragonRidge, specifically?
Everything! DragonRidge is such a fabulous facility. Condition-wise, the layout, the whole thing, it’s the highest caliber for playing.
This is a period of unprecedented growth at DragonRidge. If you could wave a magic wand, would you just make any adjustments?
The only thing I would change is I’d like to expand the driving range so you can have more people hitting balls. With our steady growth, we’re starting to fill the range in the afternoon. If you extend the range 4-6 stations wider, it would require construction in the gulley. They’re really good at building around here (laughs.) I’ve never suggested it to Rich MacDonald, but with his vision, he may already have something in mind.