Grande Meadows Golf Club in Frenchman's Cove has produced many good young junior golfers over the last number of years and that was never more evident than last week, when the nine-hole Burin Peninsula course hosted the Newfoundland and Labrador Golf Association (NLGA) 2009 provincial junior boys' and girls' championships
Erin Lundrigan of Burin captured her third successive provincial junior ladies' title. Right on her heels was clubmate Catherine Kenway of Winterland.
As a result, the two 18-year-olds are on the provincial team that will compete in the Canadian junior women's championship Aug. 3-7 in Hampton, N.B., and have also earned berths on the Newfoundland and Labrador Canada Summer Games team competing in P.E.I. later that same month.
Besides Lundrigan and Kenway, Grande Meadows has also produced two-time provincial junior champion Brittany Cluett of Garnish (2005-06) and Shelley Moulton of Winterland, who took that title in 2002. Marystown native Lacey Cribb, yet another Grande Meadows graduate, was the provincial ladies' amateur champion in 2008.
Lundrigan was runner-up to Cribb at the provincial amateur last year, but is looking to take the crown at this year's event, being played in Grand Falls-Windsor this week. After the first day of play, Lundrigan was in first place, leading former champion Kathleen Jean of Stephenville by five strokes.
Cribb, who golfed out of the Glendenning course in St. John's last year, is not defending her title in Grand Falls as she is living in Alberta.
Jim Stick, provincial coach for the NLGA, said migration to the mainland for work or education has had an impact on the numbers entering provincial events.
"Men's and women's tournaments don't get a full field anymore, even in the larger centres like St. John's," said Stick. "It could be too many tournaments ... and the economy is hindering, too. I find the same numbers are playing golf, they're just playing less."
Not all areas of the province are similarly affected, according to Stick - "In some areas, it's good; in some others, it's not," - but he did note that overall, there is a problem with the number of girls competing at the highest levels. Only nine registered for this year's provincial juniors at Grande Meadows.
"Holding the junior tournaments early is one problem," he said. "The kids are just out of school and don't have time to prepare. But with the (junior girls') nationals (being held) first of August, there's little time."
Stick outlined another problem for provincial junior events.
"It means parents have to accompany their children, needing accommodations for a week and with the drive, it reduces the number entering," he said.
Howard Lundrigan and Dave Kenway have accompanied their daughters to provincial tournaments around the province for the past four years. They agreed it's a big commitment.
"You need time off (a full week), a hotel room, meals. It can run you as high as $1,000," said Kenway.
"It means a lot of early mornings too," added Lundrigan.
Stick says Erin Lundrigan and Catherine Kenway - both in their last year of junior play - were easily the best in their division this season and feels the girls are reaping the benefits of having played outside the province. The two were among 10 Canada Games hopefuls - boys and girls - who travelled to Florida, where they played on three top-notch courses over the Easter holidays,
"I've been training them for five to six years and never had a better group," said Stick.