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Local Golf

North Suncoast Junior Golf Association preps golfers for future

Lauren Shuford, 17, gets ready to tee off at the Southern Hills Golf Course in Brooksville at an event hosted by the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association.

MIKE CAMUNAS | Times

Lauren Shuford, 17, gets ready to tee off at the Southern Hills Golf Course in Brooksville at an event hosted by the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association.

BROOKSVILLE — There's this tour.

Well, sort of. It's for amateurs. Young'n golfers as fresh as eight years old play in it.

There isn't much pizazz to it. There's no fanfare either, but the golfers of the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association like it and, the best part, use it to their advantage.

"Pretty much (the association) is word of mouth," NSJGA coordinator Kathy Brown said. "We don't do any advertising besides on our Web site. I guess it is relatively quiet, maybe even unknown, but we usually have nearly the maximum play each week."

Each week, NSJGA, which is based at World Woods Golf Club in Weeki Wachee, hosts a tournament at various courses in Hernando and Citrus counties, but the association includes golfers from Pasco and Hillsborough counties as well.

Brown says membership is $60, and then each golfer pays about $13 per tournament each week. Ages range from 8 to 18, each with different levels of skill, such as 16-18 boys advanced level and 8-9 boys and girls intermediate.

"We're for the more casual golfer," Brown said. "But don't get me wrong, we have some real competitive scores — the 70s and even the 60s in the past. It is competitive, but it's also part social."

Many of the golfers, though, use the NSJGA as a perfect transition to high school golf, and then from there, perhaps, the next level as well.

"A lot of them have gone on to — I wouldn't say professional golfers, but doing well in college," Brown said. "There are a lot of popular alum and I think it prepares them for college — getting a golf scholarship to play on that level.

"Here they can learn the rules and the etiquette real well, and we're not the real professional league."

That's why one of the golfers, Anthony Fiocca, joined NSJGA. He's about to start high school and is only a year into playing golf and looking to improve to become one of the better golfers in the area.

"(NSJGA has) helped me a lot," Fiocca, 14, said. "Just the general driving, putting — it's improved my game a lot. It's going to be a springboard, one that I need for going into high school. I also hope this will get me some recognition from coaches around here, that way they'll start to know my name some."

As for Brooke Dalton, 10, and one of the more talented players, generally winning in her 10-18 girls intermediate level, she wanted more competition out of her golf rounds.

"I joined because I'm into golf and I wanted to play different people who had talent," Dalton, a Hudson resident, said. "I just really like how competitive it can be because that will make me a better golfer."

Even the older golfers, such as 17-year-old Laurne Shuford, a standout golfer at Hernando High who will be a senior this fall, look for competition. But Shuford, who also would like to gain a scholarship during her senior year, knows how important an organization like NSJGA is.

Since there are very few organizations like it, Shuford realized how beneficial it can be.

"It helps me throughout the summer — there's no high school tournaments right now," Shuford said. "I mean, if you don't have the money to go to all the other tournaments, there's not much else, but there's this.

"This keeps me sharp, keeps me fresh," Shuford said. "It gives me something to look forward to each week, like if I were on a tour."

Community Sports Editor Mike Camunas can be reached at (352) 544-9480 or mcamunas@sptimes.com.

>>Fast Facts

North Suncoast Junior Golf Association

Mission: To provide a fun activity for Florida junior golfers, build strong character, teach good sportsmanship and offer quality instruction with an emphasis on the rules and etiquette of the game of golf.

Location: World Woods Golf Club, 17590 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Brooksville

For more information, contact NSJGA coordinator Kathy Brown at (352) 796-5500, ext. 22 or e-mail at NSJGA@worldwoods.com or log onto www.worldwoods.com/fw/main/NSJGA_Junior_Golf-17.html

North Suncoast Junior Golf Association preps golfers for future 07/29/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 10:14am]
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