The weather cleared just in time for the GSA Tour to begin its new season. The first tournament of the 2018 year was held at Cobb’s Glenn as the Upstate Tour for junior golfers begins its fourth year.
The GSA Tour plays mostly courses in the Upstate, but golfers from all over the state and North Carolina have found their way to tournaments.
The initial idea for the Tour was to provide competitive events for local golfers. Events that could be played close to home and at a financially manageable cost for families that might not have the funds to travel around the state or country.
“We got involved to create opportunities for kids who needed a place to play,” said GSA Co-founder Todd McAlister. “Not everyone can afford a two or three day tournament so we wanted to offer an alternative,” he said.
The Tour started slowly in the first few years, but as word spread about competitive one-day events for juniors the fields started to grow.
The boys side of a tournament will have between 30 and 60 players. The girls division usually has between 10 and 20 competitors, but recent tournaments have seen a big jump in girls entries.
Golfers who play on the GSA Tour can earn points to be used in the SCJGA Heritage Foundation Junior rankings. Having the ability to offer points to the competitors has aided in the growth of the Tour.
“When Todd and I came up with the idea it was because we both had boys playing junior golf,” said Todd Carter. “We thought we would do this for a few years and when our boys aged out we would move along,” he said.
However, the growth of the tour and the enjoyment of seeing young golfers have fun competing and getting better has them both still involved after their boys have moved on to play college golf.
Matt Carter plays at Upstate and Drake McAlister is on the Anderson University team. They were two of the first golfers to graduate from the Tour and play in college, but they have not been the only ones.
While many of the big name players who are Division I recruits in the state don’t play in the tournaments very often. Golfers who have the skill to be considered for college teams on the NCAA Division II, NAIA or Junior college level have used the Tour to refine their skills and show their potential to college coaches.
Last year a pair of regulars Connor Fahey and Andrew Rose of Greer both signed to play college golf at Belmont Abbey.
Victoria Hall is a senior at Byrnes and has signed to play college golf at Anderson. Since the end of the girls high school season in October there have been very few playing opportunities for girl golfers.
Hall has played and won events on the Tour during the last few years and believes the competition helped her.
“The tournaments are well run and there is better competition out here than you might think,” said Hall. “You have to play well to win and when you play well you build confidence in your game,” said the future Trojan golfer.
Ashley Looper from Travelers Rest won the girls 16-18 year old division.
Chloe Holder from Williamston won the girls 13-15 year old age group and the girls overall championship.
Daniel Brasington of Woodruff won the boys 13-15 year old division and also the overall boys championship at Cobb’s Glen.
The ninth grader, who is 38th in the state boys rankings, already has some impressive accomplishments on his resume. Brasington carded a 64 on his home course at Three Pines for his personnel best score. He also qualified and made the cut at the South Carolina Amateur played at the Florence Country Club last year.
“There are a lot of good players out here and a lot of players who are underrated,” said the Cobb’s Glen winner. “Some players are just getting noticed so you never know who is going to win, it makes you compete harder,” he said.
The GSA Tour operates 12 tournaments between now and the end of 2018. The events are open to any junior golfer. The tournaments have several age group divisions for boys and girls and tracks points earned during the season.
Golfers can become Tour members or may enter individual events. Contact the GSA Tour at http://www.gsagolftour.com