High school golf is alive and well on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and we can thank course owners, managers, professionals and members for that.
The NFL might have started Play 60, but these caring individuals who allow juniors to hit their links have been helping youngsters "get active and healthy" for years.
They walk over four miles if they play 18 holes and carry a bag full of drivers, hybrids and forged steel. And, if (a big if) their coaches pull the plug on cell phones and tablets during practice, the kids just might be improving their social skills.
At the very least, these fairway minions are off the couch and away from the TV thanks to area courses.
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Five high school majors will hit the Coast in 2016 beginning with the St Stanislaus Invitational hosted by Bob Saucier at Diamondhead CC's Cardinal Course on March 1. High school teams will then compete in the Bank of Wiggins High School Invitational on March 12 hosted by the Pine Burr members. Tony Johnson's West Jones Invitational hosted by Ron Hickman will be played at Hattiesburg's Timberton Golf Club on March 22.
The schedule moves back to the Coast on April 5 for the Admiral Invitational hosted by Coach Peterman at Great Southern Golf Club. Coaches will hopefully sign up for at least three of the five high school majors so that their players will be eligible for the SM Living Player of the Year awarded at the St Patrick Season Championship on April 12 at The Oaks.
The POY award will go to the player with the lowest scoring average. Former East Central golfer and MGCCC freshman Wyatt Adkison took home top honors last year with a 75.83 average over all six events, edging out MGCCC signee and West Jones senior Jackson Wedgeworth's 76.25 average in four events (Drop scores not allowed).
The high school season begins Feb.1 for practice and March 1 for games. Women's coach Albert Pickich will again host a scheduling meeting at the Biloxi High School Gym at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12. Area golf coaches can sign up for majors and create dual-match timetables.
Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a column for the Sun Herald.