Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Hi All! My name is Chris McMillan and I am the new four-monthblog photo intern for the Legends Junior Tour. I am from Winneconne, Wisc., which is a small town about an hour outside of Green Bay. I am currently studying marketing at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisc. and also hold a degree in Computer Networking. Back in Wisconsin, I work for the Menasha Joint School district as a Technology Support Technician and have been there for a little more than five years. I have also coached high school baseball, middle school track and field, as well as middle school football during my time at Menasha.

I am a huge sports fan and enjoy watching or playing just about any sport I can. I’ve been playing golf since I was 6 years old and also competed at the Varsity level my freshman year of high school. Nowadays, I enjoy golfing with friends any chance I get and trying out new courses. The Wisconsin golf season can sometimes last only four or five months, so I get my hacks in while I can!

Last summer, I decided to go back to school to broaden my skills with the goal of gaining employment in the sports world. Sports have been a big part of my life and after working in the technology field since 2011, I knew I needed to get on a path that led me back to the sports realm. That thought was merely just that about 12 months ago, a thought. That was, until I applied back to school, started taking classes, and then started looking for an internship that would help propel me into my new career path. I came across the P.J. Boatwright, Jr. internships that are offered across the country and decided to apply to the Texas Golf Association for their summer internship. I knew that it would probably be a long shot, but at the same time I was confident in my knowledge and work ethic if I were to get a chance to be a part of the organization. I went through the interview process and got the call back in February that they wanted to offer me the internship. I was ecstatic to begin my new journey in golf and officially began on May 2.

I hope to learn all the ins and outs that go with working for the Texas Golf Association and the Legends Junior Tour. I’m really excited to get to experience a whole new state in our travels this summer and to really understand all the behind the scenes work that goes into making a golf tournament a success. Already in the one day that I’ve been here, I see that there are many hard working men and women that make the whole operation tick. I hope that I can be even just a small part of helping make them successful!

Continuing with the “Favorite Five” theme, I will tell you some of my favorite places to go in Wisconsin if you ever get the chance to visit!lambeau

  1. Lambeau Field (Green Bay) – I might be slightly biased with this one but it
    truly is a great atmosphere for football.
  2. The Wisconsin Dells
  3. Devil’s Lake State Park (Baraboo)
  4. Cave of the Mounds (Blue Mounds)
  5. Wyalusing State Park (Bagley)

 

Thanks for taking some time to learn a little about me and I look forward to the rest of the summer!

 

Chris McMillan

2017 LJT Intern

 

The Constant Struggle With Mother Nature

Golf courses require year-round care. You can’t take any weeks off and you must be constantly feeding the course and nurturing it, especially during the hot summers of Central Texas.

Ridgewood Country Club features rolling hills, large deciduous trees and provides spectacular views of Lake Waco. The primarily elevated greens are planted to A1A4 bent grass and have consistently been considered among the best in the state. The rest of the course is comprised of hybrid bermuda grass tees and fairways and a combination of hybrid and common bermuda grass rough.

Being adjacent to Lake Waco comes with its difficultiesIMG_9223 (1) at times however and most recently in 2016, when the lake flooded parts of the golf course. In April, the lake got up to 478 feet and submerged the green on No. 1. The lake had actually come up and covered the green which looks out over the lake and stayed that way for 21 days and the grass grew to a height of two inches. Typically Ridgwood CC keeps their greens around 1/8 of an inch, so two was a dramatic difference.

The combination of high lake level and strong north winds caused major damage to the cart path behind 15 green and the retaining wall around 16 tee. The path has been redone and the wall stabilized for future use.

IMG_9387Along with the actual damage to the course, there was a substantial amount of debris that flooded the course and needed to be cleaned up. They began burning the natural debris that was on the course and soon had things back to normal. For now.

Another wave of flooding hit the course in June of 2016 and the lake reached its third highest flood stage in history at 484.5 feet, which is 22.5 feet above normal. The green on No. 1 submerged again and was joined by No. 16 green this time. Holes 1, 14, 15, 16 and 17 were closed for repairs for the month. The path and retaining wall behind 15 green needed further repairs as well as bunkers throughout the course.

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The course has risen from the flooding the lake is back to a normal level. Ridgewood Country Club is in sensational shape for the upcoming Collegiate Preview and the Legends Junior Tour would like to thank Superintendant Travis Moore and his staff for their wonderful jobs in sustaining the crazy central Texas weather.

Moving forward, the club is going through some flooding solutions so that the course can withstand the craziness of Lake Waco in the future.

If you would like to read more about the maintenance staff and what they’re doing at Ridgewood Country Club, check out their blog and see everything that goes into golf course maintenance and preparation.

http://ridgewoodwaco.blogspot.com/

As for my favorite five, here are my favorite golf courses to play in Texas.

  1. Brook Hollow Country Club
  2. Austin Country Club
  3. Spanish Oaks Golf Club
  4. Lakewood Country Club
  5. Dallas Athletic Club – Blue Course

Kevin Porter
LJT Tournament Manager

 

 

 

More Than Just Golf

You practice your hardest day in and day out. On the range, the putting green, the course, you somehow find the time to balance that hard work with your studies and traveling all over to different tournaments.  Maybe you do it because you want to improve your game?  Maybe you do it because you want to play golf for a big Division 1 college someday?  Or maybe you just like playing golf and enjoy the scenery?  Me, I am a terrible golfer.  Y’all need caddies for your clubs, while I need someone to follow me and yell “FORE!” on the rare occasion I make contact with the ball.  But I’m not here to talk about my golf.

Many of you will be playing in this year’s James A. Ragan Memorial down in Corpus Christi this coming weekend.  In the past, I have often heard, “Who is this James A. Ragan, and why is this tournament named after him?”  Well, my name is Mecklin, James’ older sister, and that is a question I am honored to answer.

mecklin-1
Me with my parents and James.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve just turned 13 years old, you just finished 7th grade and you’re ready for summer.  You are physically fit athlete, eager to take on the world, and you and your closest friends are more than ready for a summer of fun, with excitement of what your futures hold.

But then imagine that four weeks later you are diagnosed with cancer, and when you start 8th grade, you are bald, skinny and in a wheel chair.  Now imagine that over the next seven years, eight of your friends die, not from random accidents but from various diseases or conditions. By the time you are almost done with your sophomore year of college all of your friends who shared your disease are gone. You are the only one left.

I am 25 years old, and I have never experienced anything like this. My parents are in their mid-fifties, and they have never experienced anything like this. But my younger brother, James A. did.

In 2006, James was diagnosed with a type of pediatric bone cancer called Osteosarcoma. At first, it was just in his left leg, and doctors had to remove most of the leg to save him. His dreams of becoming a Division 1 tennis player were torn away from him, but at least he would be alive. As hard as that was, about a year later, James learned that even the surgery would not save his life. The cancer had metastasized to his lungs, and he then underwent countless rounds of chemotherapy, experimental treatments, drugs and surgeries to his lungs, chest wall and diaphragm. It was as dark a time as I believe any child can have, but in the midst of all of this James made the most of his moments, and found ways to make the most of a horrific situation.

Perhaps most surprisingly, when James could no longer play tennis because he had most of his left leg cut out and replaced with metal parts, he decided to take up golf at the age of 14, which led to his relationship with the Legends Junior Tour (but more about that later).

Throughout everything he went through, James always maintained a smile, a hopeful attitude and worked tirelessly at school, golf, and cancer – especially cancer. Since 2007, James and I held annual fundraisers to raise money for cancer research, but each event was done individually and not as a foundation.

In 2010, we organized a non-profit called Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation (TOKC) tokc-logoto start and fund the Children’s Sarcoma Initiative at M.D. Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. TOKC committed to raise 1.5 million dollars, to be matched by M.D. Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, and the money would create a fund, which would award grants to support new research in pediatric bone cancer. We met that goal in 2014, the year James Arthur died.

James’ vision was a world without children’s cancer, and I and the rest of the TOKC board members, now more than ever, are determined to make that vision a reality. The most promising step in cancer research in recent years has been whole genome sequencing for adult cancers. As with other types of research, little work has been done in whole genome sequencing for pediatric orphan cancers due to cost. Yet genome sequencing is essential to providing the knowledge and understanding necessary for researchers to learn how to cure pediatric cancers. For that reason, TOKC’s newest project, The Childhood Genomic Research And Sequencing Project – because the key to curing pediatric cancer is within our GRASP. GRASP will provide longitudinal whole genome sequencing for pediatric orphan cancers, starting with medulloblastoma, pediatric bone cancers, and pediatric melanoma.

In addition, to help us remember James each year, we started the “Wingman” program. The issue of wings was always special to James because his thoracic surgeon had a unique method of making the incision so that the curved surgical scars across the back brought wings to mind. His pediatric patients always referred to them as “Angel’s Wings.” So, each year we have a special pediatric cancer patient – “James’ Wingman” – as our guest at all of our functions so we can always remember James and the reason why spreading awareness and supporting pediatric cancer research is so important.

Now, back to the LJT.  Although tennis was James’ first love, golf quickly became his passion.  He eventually said, “If I had known what a great game golf was, I’d never have played tennis.”

James threw himself into golf with relentless practice as well as reading mecklin-2and watching everything he could about golf.  It wasn’t long before the default channel on our TV was the golf channel, James was telling us all about the history of golf, and we were all drinking Arnold Palmers on a regular basis. Certain aspects of golf came very naturally to James, and those that didn’t he worked very hard day in and day out to improve. In a very short period of time – about 3-4 years – James became a scratch golfer, and was playing tournaments around Texas, trying to become a Division 1 golfer.  Out of all of the tournaments James’ played, the Legends Junior Tour events were by far his favorite.  In spite of all of his medical care – surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation – he was an LJT Champion, winning the Jimmy Demaret tournament and qualifying for the South’s Jackie Burke Cup team.  He even went on to play golf for Rice, a Division 1 school, for two years prior to his death.  But becoming a champion is not why we remember James.

Throughout all of his trials, James always showed a love and respect for golf, a dedication to sportsmanship, friendliness, camaraderie and care and compassion for others, regardless of their station in life.  He helps us keep in mind that no matter what troubles you think you have, if you look to your left and then turn to your right there are always people worse off than you that need and deserve your help.

James died February 17, 2014 – almost 3 years ago – and while he is no longer with us, his memory and his legacy continue on through the Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation and events like the James A. Ragan Memorial.

I cannot thank Kellen and the LJT team enough for hosting this event, and each of you for participating.  Best of luck to those of you competing in the James A. Ragan Memorial this weekend – give it all you’ve got! – and I look forward to meeting y’all in Corpus.  Also a special thanks to the many generous donors taking part in the Birdie Eagle Program. Every birdie and eagle you make raises money to fund pediatric cancer research!

In continuing with the “Favorite Five” theme, here are a few of James’ favorite restaurants in Corpus Christi for y’all to try this weekend (in no particular order):

  1. Mamma Mia’s
  2. Girabaldis
  3. Andy’s Kitchen
  4. B&J’s Pizza
  5. The Yardarm

 

I’d like leave you with some advice from James:

“My life hasn’t always been fairways and greens – it’s been a little bit of army golf, we call it.  Left, right, left, right, balls kind of going everywhere, and lots of trouble.  But that doesn’t mean you give up or that you try to play the game any differently. You just try to figure out the best way to deal with it.  You go forward and you swing hard to try to get it out of the trees. You have to keep moving forward and focus on the next shot in front of you.”mecklin-4

  • James A. Ragan, 2013

 

Mecklin Ragan

James A.’s Big Sister

 

 

 

Life of a Golf Admin: Site Visits

You might think to yourself, what are those LJT guys and gals doing when they’re not at tournaments setting up the golf course and pushing us to play faster? Well early in the year, after the schedule has been released with all the new sites for the upcoming season, we work on setting up times to meet with clubs on the tournament they have graciously decided to host.

Recently Kellen and I embarked on a two-day journey that started with a drive down I-35 and a needed a stop in West, Texas, for kolaches. Because we have three new courses on our schedule for the first part of 2017, we needed to visit with each club. We stopped in Waco at Ridgewood Country Club, then went down to Spicewood, near Austin, to Lakecliff Golf Club, and ended our trip with a meeting at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio.

The Collegiate Preview returns to Ridgewood Country Club after two years away, while the Jimmy Demaret Junior Classic is going to Lakecliff Golf Club for the first time and the renewed Alamo Shootout comes back at Briggs Ranch Golf Club.

ridgewood-2

Ridgewood CC is hosting the Collegiate Preview, which is a slightly different format than any other event on our schedule (36 holes the first day, 18 the second day). Ridgewood CC hosted the inaugural event in 2014 so the staff was familiar with the event.

After we finished in Waco, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and were off to the Austin area to check out Lakecliff Golf Club. Because this is the LJTs first event at Lakecliff, we were a little more in depth with the club about our event and what we expected.

We headed down to San Antonio following Lakecliff and wrapped up our meetings the following morning at Briggs Ranch. As with Lakecliff, this will be Briggs Ranch’s first time to host as well, so just about everything about the event was discussed. Once we finished at Briggs Ranch, we loaded up and ventured back toward Dallas to return home.

At these site visit meetings, we typically meet with the head golf professional, superintendent, and a food and beverage staff member. We discuss the schedule of events, starting times and tees, spectator carts, scoreboard needs, tournament office availability, food and beverage availability, and everything in between.

Once the meeting has finished and we have answered any and all questions the club staff my have, we go out on the golf course and choose yardages based on a variety of differentranch information, get an idea for hole locations, and take a few course pictures. Occasionally we get to play golf while on the visit.

These meetings with the club are a huge help in us being prepared for each event, since every course isn’t the same layout. Golf offers a great variety of different venues and the Legends Junior Tour enjoys taking on different challenges that courses offer for the staff and players. It also allows the courses to know what to expect when the Legends Junior Tour comes to town.

As for my favorite five list, I thought it would be fitting in go through my top five favorite road trip songs. Since we just got back from a road trip and another one is coming when we head down to Corpus Christi, Texas for the James A. Ragan Memorial.

Kevin’s Favorite Five Road Trip Songs:

  1. “Africa” by Toto
    4. “My Texas” by Josh Abbott Band
    3. “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley
    2. “The Road Goes On Forever” by Robert Earl Keen
    1. “Any Way You Want It” by Journey

With all the traveling we do on the Legends Junior Tour, whether that be staff, volunteers and players, I’m sure there’s a top five in songs for all of us. If not a top 100.

I’ll see you down the road,

Kevin

The Lead Up

Happy New Year, junior golfers!!  I hope you have checked the Legends Junior Tour website (TLJT.org) and found the dates of our tournaments for 2017. I have already entered the dates on my calendar, and I hope you will do the same.  We work hard to provide the best golf experience we can for the greatest junior golfers in the state.

Since the LJT Winter Classic at Dallas Athletic Club is coming up shortly (January 21-22), I thought I would give you a brief overview of what is involved from the club’s standpoint to prepare for such an event.

First, we must secure permission from the club, since they are giving up their course for the days of the tournament as well as another day for a practice round. This is generally anwinter-classic-tee imposition on the club’s membership since they pay dues to use their course year round. At DAC, a written request is submitted to the Golf & Grounds Committee, specifying various things such as the size of the field, the dates requested, the food & beverage requirements, special rooms needed for lunches and a tournament office. If the Golf & Grounds Committee approves the request, it must then go to the Board of Directors for their approval. Once the Board approves the tournament, then a contract is signed by both the club and the LJT, setting out exactly what each will provide for the event. At this point, the tournament is added to the club’s official calendar. Notice of the tournament will be posted in or near the pro shop and publicized in the monthly newsletters.

Weeks before the tournament, the LJT staff meets with the DAC staff. Hole locations and hole distances are discussed, as well as number of carts needed. Menus for the food and beverages must be planned and approved by the club chef as well as our staff. Location of rooms to serve as the tournament office and lunch room for the participants must be selected and reserved by DAC.  Obviously, the club will need to order extra food and beverages to accommodate the tournament as well as adding any extra needed staff to shifts to accommodate the surplus of people on the property.

Volunteers from DAC are needed to serve as real time scorers and possibly spotters out on the course, so DAC will send out requests to their members to volunteer their time during the tournament. Any special needs for the volunteers, such as carts and chairs, must be arranged in advance by the club. Carts for the LJT referees must be reserved and prepared in advance of the tournament start.

winter-classic-green
Just prior to the tournament, the DAC Superintendent’s staff must make sure that the fairways, rough, greens and teeing areas are properly mown. The LJT staff is responsible to make sure course preparations are made correctly and mark the golf course for tournament play. DAC replaces their own flags with an LJT flag on each hole. The LJT hole locations must be cut to order each day of the tournament, as well as during the practice round.

On the morning of the first round, it’s up to the maintenance staff to prepare the course thewinter-classic-jb-kk way the LJT desires. The golf shop takes on the task of providing all the players and parents with any additional items they need for the day like a golf cart, golf balls, tees or even some extra clothing since it is called the Winter Classic.

Well, now you can see just a bit of what happens at our host clubs prior to your arrival. I
hope you will express your gratitude to the staff and members of Dallas Athletic Club and to all of our future host clubs for the sacrifices they make to promote junior golf in Texas. If it weren’t for them, we certainly could not do what we do!!


In continuing with the blog’s top five theme, I was asked to include my five favorite meals.

5.  Grilled salmon, French cut green beans with almonds, small new potatoes
4.  Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes or French fries
3.  Spaghetti with meat sauce and salad
2.  Grilled Strip Steak, baked potato, salad
1.  Raw (yes, RAW) oysters, cocktail sauce, crackers

I can’t wait to get the season started, and I really look forward to seeing each of you at our Texas LJT events!!
Hit ’em long, straight & seldom,
Jim Brown

New Year, New Ideas

With 2017 around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to infuse some new ideas and changes into the Legends Junior Tour. No better way than to create a blog for the LJT! Splitting the Fairway, appropriately named after what my drives do off the tee box (very rarely), will be a new way to engage you all on things other than tournament specific information!

Through this blog, you will read stories from our LJT staff, players, volunteers, former players, and others about a variety of different things. We are not going to release all of our new ideas planned for you when it’s not even 2017 yet, but we thought releasing this blog would be a great way to get us and you excited for 2017. The best is yet to come!

As you all know, we have released our first half of the schedule through the Lanny Wadkins Junior Championship. We are excited to be back at some familiar golf courses like Dallas Athletic Club for our popular Winter Classic and Lakewood Country Club for our prestigious Byron Nelson Junior Championship. But we are equally excited to be at some new clubs that you all will be very excited to play. The James A. Ragan Memorial will be held at Corpus Christi Country Club, the home club of the Ragans; the Alamo Shootout, last hosted in 2011, will be brought back to life at Briggs Ranch Golf Club, one of the best tracks in the San Antonio area.

As soon as we finalize the back end of our 2017 schedule, we will be sure to release it to you all. We promise, you will be as excited with the second half of the schedule as the first half!

With each blog post, we are going to introduce the “Favorite Five.” Each person who writes a blog post will choose a list and write their favorite five of that list. And without further ado, here’s my list.

Kellen’s All-Time Favorite Five Christmas Movies.

5. Deck the Halls
4. Elf
3. The Santa Clause
2. Christmas Vacation
1. Home Alone

Feel free to tell me why I am wrong, and will politely decline to listen!

Stay tuned for our next post from one of our favorite persons associated with the Legends Junior Tour!

With that, I want to wish everyone a happy holidays! I hope Santa brings everyone what they ask for, and we look forward to seeing you in 2017!

Kellen