Juniors tee off again after Ivan break

Junior golfers had a fun time and got their first chance in years to pit their skills competitively at the North Sound Club on Sunday.

The teenagers were competing in the first tournament since Hurricane Ivan ravaged the island in 2004. Brian Eccles is in charge of Cayman Islands’ junior golfers. He organized the event with his assistant Ross McDonough. It was sponsored Campbell’s Law Firm and DDL Architects. Fourteen youngsters aged 13 and 14 competed, including four girls. It was a nine-hole ‘scramble’ which meant the children were divided into groups of three and as it was not handicapped each team was selected to be roughly equal in ability. All the players received a prize and pizza and drinks afterwards.

‘We used to have a very active junior program on the island which was disrupted by Ivan because the golf course was closed for over a year and a half,’ Eccles said. ‘So this is just us getting back.

‘I’d like to recognize the pro here, Sean Wilson, and his assistant Kevin Mumford who do a lot of work with us. These guys work on Thursday afternoons with the juniors. They’ve been at that forum for about six weeks and this is the first time we’ve managed to get a group of golfers who are accomplished enough to go on the course in a competition.

‘The North Sound Club has generously closed the back nine for us this afternoon so I’d like recognize the club and Michael Ryan in particular for endorsing and supporting our junior program.

‘Our Thursday evening sessions are for eight-year-olds and older. Obviously, a lot are learning and picking up the game but they don’t have the skills to get onto the golf course as yet. But this group has been approved to play on the course by Sean and hence the competition today.’

One keen participant was Emily Ribbins, only 12 but she’s been playing for as long as she can remember, thanks mainly to her mum, Siobhan, who opened the first golfing range in Cayman. ‘I suppose it just runs in the family,’ Emily said. ‘My dad doesn’t play, he’s more of a footballer. I moved back to Ireland after Ivan and played golf there. Sometimes I think of becoming a golf pro and other times I think of other things I could be doing, but yeah, I could make a living in golf. I get a really big thrill from it. I’ve never got a hole in one but been close with a two. It’s great that there’s a tournament today because before there wasn’t even a junior program.’