Two years ago, Forest Heights Country Club host their annual Schenkel Invitational youth clinic and the next day they cancelled the tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year the tournament was held, but COVID protocols prevented the clinic from happening,
Wednesday it looked as though the weather may put a damper on this year’s event, but after a heavy downpour the sun broke through and a good number of kids ages 4-14 came out to get some pointers from members of the Georgia Southern men and women’s golf teams as well as some of the University of Wisconsin players who were on hand as well.
“We started this as a way for the kids in our community to get them introduced to the game of golf,” said Schenkel committee chair Chad Avret. “We split the kids up into three different age groups to give them a chance to be with their own age group and split up to get more one-on-one attention from the golfers who were kind enough to take some time out of their schedules to help them out.”
Many of the same kids will have a chance Friday through Sunday to come out with their parents to Forest Heights for one of the most highly attended collegiate golf tournaments in the country.
“We started this to introduce the kids to golf, but also to hopefully get them to come to the tournament,” said Avret. “These are some of the best college golfers in the country that these kids could one day be watching on the PGA Tour. We’ve had guys like Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson who have gone on to win major tournaments play right here in Statesboro. The players are very personable and they really enjoy interacting with the kids who come out to watch.”
Georgia Southern golf coach Carter Collins has encouraged his players to take an active role in helping out at the youth clinic and has even allowed the youngsters to use him as target practice in the past.
“This is what it is all about,” said Collins. “Giving back is something that is so important and I’m proud that our guys and members of the women’s team as well, enjoy the opportunity to give back to the kids from around here in Bulloch County. We are also glad the guys from Wisconsin were willing to help out and you can tell the kids are having fun as well as learning a few things that can hopefully spark some interest in golf.”
The Schenkel Invitational tees off Friday morning and will go through Sunday afternoon at Forest Heights Country Club. Admission is free and open to the public.