The junior golf program has been a cornerstone of the Sykes/Lady Overland Park Golf Course since the public golf course opened in 1970.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
“We wanted this to be the people’s golf course,” said Sandy Queen, manager of golf course operations. “The juniors were going to be the cornerstone of the growth of the course.”
The first Overland Park Junior Open was held in August of 1970. The 43rd tournament, which is called the Everett Vinzant/John Cosnotti Memorial Junior Golf Tournament, will take place Aug. 5-7. Everett Vinzant was the first golf professional at the City of Overland Park public golf course.
The junior golf program at the course has three sessions — spring, summer and fall. There are Par 3 leagues, 9-hole leagues and 18-hole leagues for boys and girls ages 6 to 18. There is also the First Tee of Greater Kansas City program.
“This teaches positive values through the game of golf,” Queen said.
The program teaches core values to 6 to 12-year-olds. The Overland Park Junior Golf Program also offers introductory golf lessons.
“We call this Golf 101,” Queen said. “It is to introduce children to the game of golf.”
Carol Gillard, who is now a volunteer, was the project coordinator for the golf division. She is also an officer in the Kansas City Golf Association.
“Every high school on the Kansas side uses our courses (Sykes/Lady Overland Park Golf Course and St. Andrews Golf Course) for fall and spring golf,” she said. “There are girls and boys tournaments held here.”
The Everett Vinzant/John Cosnotti Memorial Junior Golf Tournament finishes the summer season.
“This is a unique tournament that brands our course as a junior-friendly public golf course,” Queen said. “This is the cornerstone of our program.”
The cost is just $30 and is limited to the first 400 entries. It is for boys and girls ages 6-17. There are Par 3, 9-Hole and 18-Hole divisions.
“You will see a wide variety of skill levels here,” Gillard said. “It is a great place for high school players to compete. Most of the good high school players in Kansas have come through our program and this tournament.”
Queen added, “There is a positive impact on young people’s lives through the game of golf. Part of the excitement is kids getting trophies and learning to compete.”
Queen said that most of the Par 3 players get a trophy.
“We have second-generation and even third-generation kids playing in this tournament,” Gillard said. “This is important for the community. It provides a memory for the rest of their lives and their parents’ lives.”