The Solheim Cup inspiring young golfers in northwest Ohio
Next generation of competitors teeing off at courses across the region
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - We’re just over a month away from Toledo’s turn to host The Solheim Cup, and the excitement is reaching across all age groups. With fierce competition coming to the Glass City, the head of Rockets women’s golf couldn’t be happier.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have something like this in your city,” says coach Jenny Coluccio, “not just for our players with the 4 years you’re part of the team... we have a lot of alumni who are very excited.
The team won’t have to travel far to witness some of the greats on the greens when The Solheim Cup comes to Inverness Club -- which is all the motivation some players may need. “We have recruits for players who come in that always have their eye on professional [play],” Coluccio explains. “We know that not everybody ends up on that road, but it’s something that motivates them greatly.”
The annual women’s golf event in town may be somewhat overshadowed by this year’s pomp and circumstance surrounding the Dorr Street event, though Coluccio says “having the LPGA in town with the Marathon Classic every year is a great foundation for that motivation and relationship here in the city.... the way the community has come together and wants to support the event and involve us, recognizing it does mean a lot to our program and players, has been wonderful.”
From UT to BG: Kelsey Sager is entering her senior year as a Falcon, but also teaches kids the finer points of the fairways through the Toledo Junior Golf Association. “Our main mission is to help beginner golfers turn into competitive golfers,” she explains. “We’re a junior tour for 10 to 18-year-olds. The 10-to-13 play 9 holes, and the 14-18 play a really competitive 18-hole tournament.”
“Competitive” is an understatement, with scorecards coming in well under par: “We’ve had 65s, 68s multiple times... we had a kid shoot under par both days and come in 2nd. We have seen numbers that Toledo Junior Golf has never seen in our 48 years of being an organization.”
Sager says the landscape for young women’s golfers has been changing for the better. “When I played in the 12/13 division, I had one other girl to play with... we have a field of 9 this year,” she recalls. “We have a ton of golfers that are trying to take the next step to college, then furthermore to the LPGA.”
When Team USA and Team Europe hit the links of Inverness, chances are some future players will be right up there in the stands. “My dad always joked that ‘GOLF’ started out as ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden’. Girls seeing other girls come into the Solheim Cup and break through all those barriers... I think that’s really, really cool. It’s like a new love, a new passion... seeing all the junior golfers getting really excited for the older people to come and show how good they are.”
The Solheim Cup begins Tuesday, August 31st at Inverness Club. For continuing coverage, visit this section of our website.
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