Fundraiser sets stage for Watson 9 opener

By April 13, 2016 No Comments

By TONY BROWN Staff writer

Maryville Daily Forum

No question that Monday was a big night for Mozingo Lake Recreation Park as city officials took the wraps off conceptual drawings for a proposed $4 million conference center and hotel complex to be located on a scenic hilltop overlooking the Sechrest 18 and Watson 9 golf courses.

But the party is just beginning, as Assistant City Manager Ryan Heiland, Mozingo’s lead administrator, and his staff prepare to celebrate a new summer season with a grand opening for the Watson 9 youth course on May 14 and the start of conference center construction sometime around the Aug. 1.

With the 2016 focus clearly on a rejuvenated youth golf program, Heiland told the City Council this week that a fundraising effort in support of programs for young players will get under way this Thursday just as the weather is forecast to warm in earnest and fairways return to peak use.

The extended fundraiser, named “Fore the Youth,” will benefit the Youth Golf Foundation.

Organized by Dr. Bruce Twaddle, the foundation’s initial purpose was to secure funding for Watson 9 construction.

The group of grass-roots volunteers has since evolved into the foundation, whose goal has shifted to providing instruction, equipment, and financial support for young people across the Maryville region interested in learning the game.

Among other things, the organization plans to provide golf “scholarships” and equipment to youngsters from lower-income families who may not be able to afford clubs, fees, and other expenses.

Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed by foundation representatives and city officials last spring, the city has agreed to provide the Junior Golf Foundation with $2,500 during the current fiscal year, money intended to cover initial costs for programming and equipment.

In addition, the foundation is to receive funding equivalent to 10 percent of all Watson 9 tee-time fees.

Fore the Youth is intended to raise even more money for the program by giving park golfers the opportunity to make donations based on the number of holes played between April 14 and May 14 — the day of the Watson 9 grand opening.

For example, Heiland said, if a Mozingo golfer pledges $1 per hole and plays two full Sechrest 18 rounds over the next month, he or she will have raised $36 for the foundation.

As for the Watson 9 opening itself, Heiland said the day will be chock-full of special activities highlighted by the appearance of course designer and PGA great Tom Watson.

Festivities will begin at 9 a.m. when Mozingo golf pro Kyle Easter is to lead a series of free youth clinics.

The opening ceremony itself is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will feature Watson as the keynote speaker. Heiland said Tuesday that Fore the Youth contributors and other Watson 9 benefactors will also be recognized at that time.

Afterward, Watson will join University of Missouri golf standout Ryan Zech and two local youth golfers in playing the course’s inaugural round.

A post-round social and press conference is set for 4 p.m. to be followed by a youth tournament at 4:30.

Follow us onTwitter@TheDailyForum