Registrations now open for return of junior tour

Registrations now open for return of junior tour
Dressed like Tiger Woods on a Sunday, Butte's Isaiah Weldon sinks a birdie putt on hole No. 12 Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 at the Old Works Championship in Anaconda. (Butte Sports file photo)

The Southwest Montana Junior Golf Tour is back.

After a two-year unscheduled break for the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour will open the 2022 season June 13 with the Lee LaBreche Kick-Off Classic at the Highland View Golf Course.

Boys and girls 11-18 can play in the tour, which will have seven stops leading up to the Aug. 8 Old Works Championship. The tour will also stop at the Butte Country Club, the Anaconda Country Club, the Hamilton Golf Club, Fairmont Hot Springs, the Beaverhead Golf Club and the Highland View Par 3

Sean Ryan, the head golf coach at Montana Tech, takes over as the Tour’s tournament director.

“We are grateful for his leadership and passion for junior golf,” Tour founder Bob Wengle said of Ryan. “Sean will set a wonderful example for our area junior golfers and run our tournaments with a level of professionalism that prepares them for high school, college and amateur golf.”

While this will be Ryan’s first official year with the Tour, he is no stranger to the SWMJGT. Ryan’s Montana Tech roster includes a handful of Tour veterans, including recent graduate Isaiah Weldon.

Weldon, a Butte High graduate, was a Tour champion. He closed his Tech career with a first-team all-conference selection.

Tech players Emily Kelly and Kennedy Lean are also Butte High graduates and veterans of the tour. Butte High star Kodie Hoagland, a future Oredigger, also played her first tournaments in the SWMJGT.

Ryan said the Tour introduces young players to tournament golf.

“I just look at what the Tour had done not just for my program but for junior golf in general,” Ryan said. “The number of tour alumni that are playing in college is impressive. Kids just have such an advantage because they have tournament rounds under their belts. They’re not just playing with mom and dad.

“There’s a reason so many kids in the tour compete so well at the high school level and then some of them at the college level. They’re getting good reps.”

Ryan said he is happy with all the courses for offering times for the young golfers to compete.

“I’m really excited,” Ryan said. “I’m excited that Bob reached out, that (Butte Country Club pro) Josh Walsh put me in touch with him. It will be a good challenge. It will be awesome for the tour to come back and get kids golfing.”

The tour will have a new look in the website thanks to an upgrade to the ShotStat system.

“The creation and development of ShotStat is a collaboration between PGA Instructors and technology professionals, all of whom happen to be both golfers and parents,” Wengel said. “Their goal was simple, develop a system using the latest technology, which would help young players improve their game.  Whether it’s a future college scholarship or competing to the best of their ability in high school, they are confident every young player can benefit from using the ShotStat Statistical Tracking System.”

Registration for the Tour is now open. Visit SWMJGT.com for more information or to sign up for the Tour.

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