College golf’s top programs have been taking in the 42nd Girls Junior PGA Championship from the Country Club of St. Albans, Lewis and Clark Course.
This year marks the first time an all-girl, full 144-player field is featured in the Championship, and coaches are taking notice.
“The fact that the field is larger than it has been in the past is great,” said Kelley Hester, head coach of Clemson University’s women’s golf team. “It’s been wonderful for us as coaches.”
Denise St. Pierre, head women’s golf coach at Penn State University, echoed Hester’s sentiments.
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“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “I’m a big proponent of more opportunity for more people. Bigger field means more work for us as coaches possibly, depending on what you’re looking for. But I’m always for more opportunity for the younger players.”
More than 40 coaches have been on the grounds this week. Some have verbal commits playing, but all are keeping an eye towards the future, including Greg Allen, head women’s golf coach at Vanderbilt University.
“The Junior PGA provides a great week for us to come out and see a lot of really talented players,” Allen said. “I think this tournament is going to become bigger and bigger and one that every junior golfer in the country is going to want to play in. [The PGA of America] has done a great job of making this, I think, one of the premier events on the schedule.”
Allen continued and expressed his excitement regarding the low numbers at this year’s Championship.
“This has been a really good setup with some reachable par 5s,” he said. “I think that’s good for girls junior golf and encouraging for us coaches to see players that can go low.”
“I really like to see players in stroke play tournaments and more than one or two-day events,” St. Pierre said. “This event being, if they make the cut, four rounds is fantastic and speaks to what they’re going to be up against in a college setting. We really want to see that as coaches.”