Junior golf growing on county links|[7/28/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 28, 2006

A 20-player increase at the Warren County Junior Golf Championships has Clear Creek assistant pro Chris Rutherford smiling broadly.

One year after 10 young golfers vied for youth championships, 30 participated in the two-day event which culminated Thursday with the final round.

Rutherford has been running youth golf clinics at the Warren County-owned golf facility on Tiffentown Road and said he plans to continue running them throughout the fall and winter.

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His three goals are to get more girls involved in golf, provide the high schools with experienced young talent and get Vicksburg spoken in the same manner as a golf hotbed that Madison, Hattiesburg and Clinton are known as.

&#8220It is my goal within the next few years to have Vicksburg have the same reputation for producing junior golfers as those others,�� Rutherford said. &#8220I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t.”

The emphasis on golf at an early age will pay dividends on the high school level as well. Rutherford recalled Warren Central golf coach Jesse Johnson playing a round with Rutherford’s son, Parker, and another golfer, Will Burnett. Both youths are prospective Warren Central students.

&#8220Coach Johnson came in and said, ‘I’m gonna have a great golf team in the next few years,’” Rutherford said.

Burnett won the 12-13-year-olds’ division at the juniors by 23 strokes, while Rutherford won the 10-11-year-olds’ division by seven shots. Connor Smith won the 8-9-year-olds’ division with an 82, while Chaz Fowler won the 14-15-year-olds’ division and Chris Jackson captured first in the 16-17 division.

In girls’ play, winners were Amanda Boleware (7-8), Peyton Rutherford (8-9), and Carra Channell (12-13).

Rutherford has run junior golf instruction in Colorado and was at Patrick Farms in Brandon before arriving in Vicksburg.