2013 WPGA Junior Tour | Irish Course at Whistling Straits

A group of golfers heads down the path at the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Haven during one of the WPGA Junior Tour's most popular one-day events.

History shows that, at one point or another, I registered all four of my children for Wisconsin PGA junior golf tournaments. I only remember doing so for three of them.

Rachel, our oldest, grew to enjoy her travels around the state and used those opportunities as a springboard to a successful college career. Josh, the one whose career I forgot, gutted out three Futures Tour events and, a few years later, a random Junior Tour walk-on cameo (forced on him by his dad) before he retired his golf clubs and turned his attention to football.

Julia nearly won player of the year on the Futures Tour one year and appeased her dad by playing golf through high school. So did Devin, our youngest who inherited his dad’s junior golf trait of preferring his knowledge of the golf swing to that of trained (PGA) professionals.

In other words, we had the time of our lives. Well, I know their dad did.

I harken back to those simpler times each year when Andy Landenberger, the director of junior golf for the WPGA, sounds the trumpets and alerts junior golf families to the start of registration for the upcoming season. The much-anticipated start of that process for 2021 WPGA junior events comes Wednesday at 6 p.m.

One of the time-honored traditions among junior golf parents is handing down scheduling advice from generation to generation.

Much of what I learned came from fellow junior golf dads such as Brad Ferrell of Edgerton, a co-worker back in the day who parented two daughters to NCAA Division I golf, and Tim Chase of Beaver Dam, an accomplished high school girls basketball coach who has won a few state championships since the days we shared looking for the wayward tee shots of our daughters. They helped me craft schedules that balanced development with fun and, hopefully, made the experiences rewarding in the eyes of my children.

These days, I'd like to think I have become that voice of experience to those who have the same scheduling questions I did once upon a time. It's easy once a junior golf family has done it a time or two; it has become daunting, this process of sifting through all the great opportunities that Landenberger and the WPGA have to offer, for those who might not know one tour from the next.

Against that backdrop, here is how I would build a schedule for the three levels of junior golf experience:

BEGINNERS

Beginner U12

Basic Moderate Advanced
Pick 3 Pick 3 Pick 3
Vitense Golfland Jefferson GC New Richmond (Links)
Missing Links Lodi GC Thornberry Creek
Fairfield Hills Saddle Ridge Wild Rock/Woods
Edelweiss Chalet
(Scramble format)
Grand View Hawks View
Door Creek Castle Rock Eagle Springs
Monona GC Oak Ridge WPGA U12
Nine Springs Eagle Springs Blackwolf Run
(Best-ball format)
Norsk The Oaks

Beginner 13-14

Basic Moderate Advanced
Pick 3 Pick 3 Pick 3
Vitense Golfland Jefferson GC New Richmond (Links)
Missing Links Lodi GC WPGA Junior
Fairfield Hills Saddle Ridge Thornberry Creek
Edelweiss Chalet
(Scramble format)
Grand View Wild Rock/Woods
Door Creek Castle Rock Hawks View
Monona GC Eagle Springs Blackwolf Run
(Best-ball format)
Nine Springs Oak Ridge The Oaks
Norsk JT Pool 1

Boys Beginner 15-18

June July August
Pick 3 Pick 3 Pick 3
HS Golf JT Pool 1 JT Pool 2
WPGA Junior Summer Scramble JT Pool 2
JT Pool 1 JT Pool 2 Mike Schnarr

Girls Beginners 15-18

June July August
Pick 3 Pick 3 Pick 3
JT Pool 1 JT Pool 1 Sherri Steinhauer
WPGA Junior Summer Scramble JT Pool 2
JT Pool 1 JT Pool 2 HS Golf

General approach: A wise high school football coach that I know runs his youth program on one basic goal: That each player enjoys himself so much he wants to come back the following year.

That should be the goal when starting a boy or girl in golf at any age. (Remember, until pickleball becomes as popular with the U18s as it is with the 55-pluses, golf remains the sport of a lifetime.)

My 3-3-3 approach to building a tournament is based on moderation and degrees of difficulty. Sample. Savor. Develop a passion.

Beginning golfers, like a novice in any sport, should spend more time honing fundamentals than working through their struggles during competition. Three easy tournaments, three moderate tournaments and three difficult tournaments gives golfers new to the game an ample taste of the sport’s competitive side while allowing plenty of time for junior golf programs and/or one-on-one lessons from a local pro.

The WPGA Junior Championship is the one 36-hole event that can — and should — be used as the measuring stick for all junior golfers from Day 1. Staged over two days at Brown Deer Park and Dretzka Park golf courses in Milwaukee, the WPGA Junior is the largest junior event of the summer and the one where most junior golfers have gotten their start — a tradition dating to 1964 when Madison’s Jeff Radder won the inaugural event staged at Janesville Country Club.

Tournament options: For those 14 and younger, the WPGA offers a statewide Futures Tour comprising mostly nine-hole events on shorter courses. The circuit aims to introduce them to the rules and etiquette of competitive golf with the comfort of knowing they can score no more than a 10 on a hole.

Regional par-3 tours are also available for those golfers who might not be ready for the Futures Tour courses that offer a mix of par-3s and par-4s. Conversely, new golfers who master the Futures Tour layouts quickly should consider sprinkling in a few Junior Tour events on straight-forward courses.

For those new golfers older than 14 who are looking to get into competitive golf, it’s not too late. The Milwaukee County Par-3 Tour is open to golfers of all ages and there are many stops on the X Golf Milwaukee County Parks Tour and the WPGA Junior Tour on courses playable for all ability levels.

Match-play tournaments and team events using a scramble or best-ball format are other ways to become exposed to competitive golf in settings where not every shot counts. Also, the growth of competitive junior golf options on the state and national level has reduced interest in many local junior events, the domino effect being that they have become far less stressful for beginners.

INTERMEDIATES

Boys Intermediate 15-18

June July August
Pick 5 Pick 5 Pick 5
HS Golf Par 3 Championship
or Summer Scramble
WSGA Junior*
JT Pool 1 JT Pool 1 JT Pool 1/2
WPGA Junior College Showcase JT Pool 2/3
JT Pool 2 JT Pool 2 JT Pool 3/4
JT Pool 2 Wis. Junior Masters*
(Match Play)
Mike Schnarr

Girls Intermediate 15-18

June July August
Pick 5 Pick 5 Pick 5
JT Pool 1 Par 3 Championship
or Summer Scramble
Sherri Steinhauer
JT Pool 2 JT Pool 1/2 JT Pool 1/2
WPGA Junior College Showcase JT Pool 2/3
JT Pool 2/3 JT Pool 2/3 JT Pool 3/4
JT Pool 2/3 WSGA Junior
(Match Play)
HS Golf

General approach: This is the stage of a junior golf career where quantity meets quality in building a summer schedule.

Some junior golfers in this category will tip-toe toward the next level by taking advantage of relatively inexpensive $40 entry fees for Junior Tour events to up the volume of those one-day tournaments, often seeking out manageable courses and tournament fields. Other junior golfers will build off that approach and seek out more courses with a reputation for being more difficult and tournament fields that have the state's better junior golfers. In both cases, they will build schedules around the WPGA Junior and increase the rigor of their schedule once their tee-to-green confidence reaches a point where it makes sense to do so.

There is no wrong approach as long as the junior golfer (and his or her parents) know when to say when.

Especially once golfers start breaking 80 with regularity, it's tempting to load up the summer calendar with event-after-event, day-after-day. But that takes a lot of gas literally and emotionally and doesn't leave much room to schedule a check-up with the swing doc or work the fundamentals that got them there.

Tournament options: The courses on each of the WPGA-sanctioned tours deserve a lot of credit. Their support of junior golf makes it possible for the section staff to offer a wide range of tournament options.

There are 44 stops on the Junior Tour alone this summer at courses from Beloit to Eagle River and all points in between. The Junior Tour event at the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Haven has grown to be so popular it is available only to WPGA Junior members and on a lottery basis. Otherwise, there are typically enough spots in most events to accommodate golfers of all ages and abilities.

For purposes of differentiating the courses on the Junior Tour, I have assigned them to one of four pools using a formula that combines the difficulty of the course with the depth of field the event usually draws. Pool 1 courses are all enjoyable courses that might not draw as many of the so-called big names as a Pool 4 course such as Pine Hills Country Club in Sheboygan, which will host a portion of the Wisconsin State Open in August. 

Choose wisely. Remember, we want every golfer to enjoy what he or she is doing so much they can't help but want to do it again in 2022.

VETERANS

General approach: If you have read this far, there's a good chance you've done this registration thing before and you know the challenge for this group of junior golfers: Self-control.

I know the anxiety that goes with this stage of a junior golf career. Golfers are interested in colleges. Colleges may or (gasp) may not be interested in them. Golfers are determined to make an impression no matter the cost.

College coaches have always urged those seeking their attention to load their schedules with tough, 36-hole tournaments and then let their performance do the rest. That was pre-COVID and that was a lot of pressure to heap on a junior golfer then.

Imagine what it's like now. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the NCAA offering extra eligibility to student-athletes whose careers have been compromised by the events of the last year. That has led to a pool of talent at the college level the likes of which we've never seen.

Now, more than ever, enjoying the twilight of their junior golf career should be the top priority for those whose days of waiting for WPGA Junior tournament registration to open are numbered.

There are still an abundance of college golf opportunities in and near Wisconsin, particularly at the Division III level where several schools in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin continue to move the needle nationally. Those schools that have done that in recent years, however, are seeing the gap they have enjoyed in recent years reduced by those that have not, yet another sign that the junior golf development in Wisconsin is doing its job — one step at a time.

Tournament options: The sky is the limit for boys and girls who have invested the time and money to cross the bridge from junior golf to amateur golf, from high school golf to college golf. 

There is nothing wrong with golfers in this category making a cameo appearance at a Junior Tour event, but those tournaments rightfully belong to those following in their footsteps. The time has come for those golfers to spread their wings and fly.

Those 36-hole events on the WPGA Players Tour — not to mention the 54-hole Wisconsin State Junior Championship run by the WSGA and the four-day Wisconsin Junior Masters at Johnson Park GC in Racine — should be the ones around which the final summer or two of junior golf should be built.

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour has also expanded its presence in Wisconsin with seven events on the 2021 calendar. Its events might look good on the Junior Golf Scoreboard, but their fields have yet to attract the quantity or the quality of corresponding events staged by Wisconsin organizations.

Meanwhile, girls also have the option of playing in the Wisconsin State Women's Open, Wisconsin State Women's Amateur and Wisconsin State Women's Match-Play without even have to qualify. Boys aren't as fortunate when it comes to qualifying, but if they can't make into the State Am or State Open, they should consider entering the Ray Fischer State Amateur Championship, a popular, 72-hole event sponsored by the Wisconsin Public Links Association at Janesville Riverside GC that — for junior boys — comes in the middle of a 10-day stretch in which there are tournament favorites every single day.

There is nothing wrong with dialing back on the number of tournaments by this point in a career, either. Inevitably, though, by the time a parent is done paying for all of this tournament activity, a familiar adage wins out: You're only young once.  

WPGA Players Tour

DateTournamentsInfo   
Jun 13
 
Info
 
 Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 20-21
 
Info Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 28-29
 
Info Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 7-8
 
Info Opens 03/31/2021

WPGA Junior Tour

DateTournaments   Group  
May 16
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
May 23
 
Info
 
 Optional Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 8
 
Info
 
 Optional Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 11
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2  Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 13
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 14
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 14
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2 Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 15
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 16
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2 Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 17
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1 Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 18
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 22
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1 Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 22
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 23-24
 
Info MajorRegister
$95 • Closes Fri Jun 11
Jun 25
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 28-29
 
Info MajorOpens 03/31/2021
Jun 29
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jun 30
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 1-2
 
Info
 
 Invitation 
Jul 1
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 5
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 5
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 6
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 6
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 8
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 11-12
 
Info MajorOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 12
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 12
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1 Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 13
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 13
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 13
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 14
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 15
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 16
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 18
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 19
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 19
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 20
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 20
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 21
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 22
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 25
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 25
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4 Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 26
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 26
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 27
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 28
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3 Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 29
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 30
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 30
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 2
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 2-3
 
Info MajorOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 5
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 6
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 1Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 8-9
 
Info MajorOpens 06/01/2021
Aug 9
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 10
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 10
 
Info
 
 Age limitRegister
$40-$45 • Closes Tue Aug 3
Aug 11
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 2Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 19
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 3Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 23
 
Info
 
 JT Pool 4Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 29
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 30-31
 
Info Major Opens 03/31/2021
Sep 19
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Oct 2
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Oct 3
 
Info
 
  OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Oct 9
 
Info
 
  OptionalOpens 03/31/2021
Oct 16-17
 
Info
 
 OptionalOpens 03/31/2021

WPGA Futures Tour

DateTournaments   Level  
Jun 16
 
Info
 
 ModerateOpens 03/31/2021
Jun 18
 
Info
 
 BasicOpens 03/31/2021
Jun 22
 
Info
 
 AdvancedOpens 03/31/2021
Jun 30
 
Info
 
 BasicOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 1
 
Info
 
 AdvancedOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 7
 
Info
 
 BasicOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 9
 
Lodi GC  ·  
Info
 
 AdvancedOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 14
 
Info
 
 Basic format Opens 03/31/2021
Jul 16
 
Info
 
 BasicOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 20
 
Info
 
 ModerateOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 21
 
Info
 
 ModerateOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 23
 
Info
 
 BasicOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 28
 
Info
 
 BasicOpens 03/31/2021
Jul 30
 
Info
 
 ModerateOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 2
 
Info
 

 Advanced

Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 3
 
Info
 
  AdvancedOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 6
 
Info
 
 Moderate Opens 03/31/2021
Aug 9
 
Info
 
  AdvancedOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 13
 
Info
 
 ModerateOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 20
 
Info
 
 AdvancedOpens 03/31/2021
Aug 24
 
Info
 
 AdvancedOpens 06/16/2021

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