When the Heritage Classic Foundation announced earlier this month that the Junior Heritage, to be run by the S.C. Junior Golf Association, would return in 2014, it was a boost for girls junior golf in the state.
In October, the foundation announced the tournament would not continue. For the region's top junior boys golfers, the Jones Cup Junior Invitational event in Sea Island, Ga., which is in the same slot on the schedule, provided an alternative. But the Jones Cup doesn't have a girls division.
SCJGA executive director Haap Lathrop says that was a factor in the group's decision to get involved.
"If you go back and look at what the SCJGA does, every event we hold has girls other than the Bobby Chapman Invitational," Lathrop said.
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Now that the tournament is returning, the SCJGA is working on making it more appealing for top girls players. While the boys winner receives an exemption into the Players' Amateur, there is really no equivalent to reward the girls winner.
"We don't know where we're going to go," Lathrop said. "But we think there should be some opportunities."
Lathrop added he hoped to discuss "possibilities" with Beth Daniel, the World Golf Hall of Famer, South Carolina native and namesake of the SCJGA's Beth Daniel Award, given annually to the state's top junior female golfer. Daniel hosts the Beth Daniel Jr. Azalea tournament each August in Charleston.
"Certainly, I hope in the next couple of months we'll make some progress," Lathrop said. "I imagine it's going to be pretty hard. I think we've just got to start lobbying some major events. The girls winner would certainly be an asset to any field. I don't think she's going to embarrass herself."
Lathrop says the goal is to bring the female alumni of the tournament to the level of the boys, "with all the former players on the professional tours."
Past boys champions include Charles Howell, III, Sean O'Hair and Kyle Stanley. Paula Creamer is the most well-known among the past girls champions.
As far as the tournament itself, Lathrop said he just hopes to give more of the same.
"I hope we can keep up the great traditions (the Junior Heritage) has created," Lathrop said. "I hope we don't let them down."
Lathrop said he was happy to take some of the load off of the Heritage Classic Foundation's employees, and down the road, he hopes the tournament can become a significant fundraiser for the Heritage Classic Foundation, which has a long relationship with the SCJGA.
"But as far as it being run, we want to do just as good a job as they've done," Lathrop said. "But it's hard to improve upon perfection."
Key words: Junior Heritage, golf, Sea Pines, SCJGA, Ocean Course, Harbour Town, Heron Point, Beth daniel,
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