High School Golf

The Tradition continues

The Tradition tournament founder and director Rick Vieth congratulates the 2019 champions Andre Propes and Oliver Rotermund. (GolfClub photo)

The Tradition is a unique event on the South Carolina Junior Golf Association schedule.

It has been played for the last 24 years at Pebble Creek in Taylors and has an impressive history of winners.

The very first Tradition was won by the team of 2009 US Open Champion Lucas Glover and former Greenville County Amateur champion Jeremy Revis when they were junior golfers.

The tournament once had a waiting list. Several times the event needed a Friday qualifying tournament because of the number of golfers interested in playing in the only Four-Ball event on the junior schedule.

The first Tradition Four-Ball was played in 1995 and won by future US Open champion Lucas Glover and Future Greenville County champion Jeremy Revis. (GolfClub photo)

However, in the last few years the tournament has attracted fewer golfers. Last year the tournament was canceled because not enough golfers entered the event.

A change in the way player points were awarded by the SCJGA in recent years affected the number of golfers in the Tradition and several other club or local community operated tournaments.

The SCJGA decided to adopted much of the formula used by the CGA to rank juniors. The CGA did not rank team events so the points that had been available to competitors in the four-ball tournament, under the old SCJGA system, were no longer awarded to participants.

Please see the CGA and SCGA explanation of Junior Rankings and the criteria used to award performance points to develop the rankings.

https://www.carolinasgolf.org/juniorrankingsfaqs

http://scjga.org/understanding-scjga-heritage-classic-foundation-rankings/

Future college golfers Riley Lovorn and Lauren Stephenson won the Tradition Four Ball in 2013. (GolfClub File photo)

While not all juniors play in tournaments for the points. Points earned in state and several national events determine the Heritage Foundation Junior Rankings for the boys and girls player of the year in South Carolina.

State and national rankings for juniors help gain the attention of college coaches and the potential of being offered an opportunity to play college golf.

With the number of tournaments available to juniors and the costs involved in playing a very full schedule chasing points some juniors and their families pass on tournaments that do not offer enough points.

“We want to make sure this tournament continues,” said Justin Fleming the Senior Director of the SCJGA. “It has been a good event with good support at Pebble Creek,” he said.

Instead of giving points for play in The Tradition, Fleming hopes to offer player exemptions into some of the SCJGA’s championships as an incentive for more players to tee it up in future Traditions.

“We have tournaments that are very popular and sometimes hard to get into for some juniors. Offering some exemptions into those events to players who do well at The Tradition hopefully will get more golfers signing up for the tournament next year,” said Fleming.

The tournament will celebrate it’s 25th anniversary in 2020. The Tradition was founded by Rick Vieth, a past president of the SCGA, and a longtime advocate of junior golf in South Carolina.

In the 24 year history of The Tradition Four-Ball the tournament often had a full field and needed a qualifying tournament to select teams. (GolfClub File photo)

It has featured consistent sponsorship from Bill Knupp and his company BB&T Barnes Insurance making his sponsorship one of the longest running commitments to junior golf made anywhere in the state.

The list of winners is a who’s who of golfers who have gone on from the junior program in South Carolina to professional success.

Past winners in addition to Glover included Kyle Thompson, DJ Trahan, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, Wesley Bryan and Matt NeSmith who have all won on Tour and have outstanding professional careers.

Many top juniors also played or are playing college golf like Bryson Nimmer, Trent Phillips and Jacob Bridgeman who also have their names among the tournament champions.

Past girls winners included many golfers who have gone on to play college golf as well as Austin Ernst, Lauren Stephenson and Sydney Legacy who are now LPGA Tour players.

“When we started this event we wanted it to be a fun tournament for the juniors,” said Vieth. “Twenty-five years ago there were not as many opportunities and playing a four-ball tournament was different than all the other tournaments juniors could play,” he said.

The juniors at The Tradition Four-Ball often played the first round of the tournament in costume and won special prizes for their outfits. (GolfClub File photo)

The tournament developed some added fun and identity when juniors played the first round in costumes or matching uniforms.

The tournament even gave out special awards for the best outfits adding to the fun.

At its peak of popularity juniors came from all over the state to play in the event much like this year.

The tournament winners Andrew Propes and Oliver Rotermund are from Charleston.

The two are golfing buddies who don’t get an opportunity to play in events together and came to The Tradition just for fun.

“Not having points didn’t matter to us,” said Propes. “We heard this was a fun event and we wanted to play together and it was a lot of fun,” he said.

The two Charleston golfers were the only team to shoot under par carding a 2-under par 70 to win the title by two shots over three teams tied for second.

“We bogeyed our first hole, but after that we shot 3-under par for the rest of the round,” said Rotermund.

The team of Oliver Rotermund and Andrew Propes won the 2019 Tradition Four-Ball (GolfCub photo)

If an award was given this year for the best outfit the two tournament winners would have won that award as well.

“We went out yesterday and wanted to find the loudest shirts we could and we did,” said Propes about his teams bold flowered golf shirts.

The fun the tournament’s winners had playing this year is what Fleming and Vieth hope can be an experience shared once again by many more junior golfers when the tournament returns to Pebble Creek for the 25th edition next October.

 

 

 

 

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