Rural Missouri - July 2017 - 14
GROWING THE GAME
Watson 9 introduces golfers young and old to the game
by Paul Newton | firstname.lastname@example.org
for beginners and youth than trying to play a full-size championship course."
In addition to the daily play of the Watson 9 - which only costs juniors
$5 per round or $110 for a season pass - it also is utilized for PGA Junior
League play, family scrambles, adult/youth alternate shot tournaments and
golf clinics such as the one Tom is helping teach.
"I don't mean it when I say the course is the fruits of my labor because this
isn't labor at all," says the 1988 World Golf Hall of Fame Inductee. "It was a
project for the love of the game. I want people to love it the way I do. I still
play the game; I'm 67 years old. I intend to play until I can't walk."
Joyce Scott of Maryville has twin boys - Ethan and Jacob - who
play in the PGA Junior League and utilize the Watson 9 frequently.
"They can just come out here and play. It's easy to get around and
they know where everything is," she says noting the economical
junior prices help with the accessibility for all children. "Before this
was built, they had to play the big course. It has given them more
opportunity to play at their pace and skill level."
Kyle says the walking-only course - which is served by United
Electric Cooperative - is kept to the same quality as the full-size, 7,135yard course that wraps around Mozingo Lake. "I think people are surprised at
how good a condition the Watson 9 is kept," the pro says. "It can be a challenge
for anyone, and it's not just for the kids. Adults play it whether on their own or
if it's parents or grandparents playing with their kids or grandkids."
Adds Kyle: "It's been such a unique opportunity for Maryville and Mozingo
Lake. We're more than blessed."
The course can be played in an hour which can make it easier for those short
on time but wanting more than a session on the driving range.
Tom says he's seen a decrease in the "new blood from all walks of life" that
have been introduced to golf. He attributes part of that to caddy programs
becoming nearly extinct in favor of motorized carts. He hopes this course -
along with the corresponding youth programs - can help.
"We're trying to get these young folks out and enjoy golf," the eight-time
major champion says. "If they start as a kid and are somewhat proﬁcient,
they'll carry the game with them the rest of their life. We want to create golfers
for a lifetime."
he professional golfer of 46 years marches up and down a row of
youngsters hitting balls toward the eighth green at his namesake
course in northwest Missouri. He stops by a girl, working with her
on her grip and swing while she practices the
approximately 50-yard pitch shot. After a few attempts, her
shot lands on the front of the green as she grabs a new ball.
"What are you doing?" he jokingly exclaims. "That was a great
shot! You've got to watch those all the way to the end. That's
the fun part."
Highlighting the enjoyable parts of golf - especially to
children - is important to Tom Watson. In collaboration with
the city of Maryville and a fundraising committee, he has
designed a nine-hole, hybrid golf course named the Watson 9 at
Mozingo Lake Recreation Area just outside of Maryville. Opened
in May 2016, the par-36 course is designed with beginners in
mind and features holes ranging from 70 yards to 235 yards from
the white tees. It has been named one of the top 15 hybrid courses in the
country by Golf Digest.
"I wanted to make it short enough that if you are somewhat skilled at hitting
the ball, you can have the fun of making a par or birdie," Tom says. "I remember
how excited I was when I made my ﬁrst birdie or eagle as a kid. That inspired
me; I want that for these kids."
The idea for the course was birthed when a local golfer was at the North
Berwick Golf Club in Scotland. The club features a Children's Course that
adults can play, "but only if accompanied by a child."
The $1.2 million, 1,654-yard course - from the back tees - was funded
through private donations and sits adjacent to the championship course that
was already at the 3,000-acre tract of land operated by the city of Maryville. It
also includes a 10,000-square-foot putting green and shelter.
Kyle Easter serves as the head professional for both courses and calls the
new course a "golf playground" for the players - young and old - who use it.
"Having this lets the kids and beginners experience so much more, while
still getting the feeling of playing on a big, championship course," he says. "The
For more information on the Watson 9 visit www.mozingolake.com/golf/
course is designed in a way that what you see is what you get. It is right out in
front of you. You're not going to lose a bunch of golf balls. It's far less intimidating courses/watson-9/ or call 660-562-3864.
Above left: World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson gives instructions to youth on
the Watson 9 at Mozingo Lake. Above right: Watson addresses a group of children during
a youth camp. Below left: Mozingo Lake Head Golf Professional Kyle Easter works with Ava
Stiff on her grip. Below right: Campers hit balls on the ﬁrst tee of the Watson 9 in Maryville.
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RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2017