A few years ago, for reasons still unknown, we decided to travel to Yeppoon so Emily could play in the Australian Junior Age Division Golf Championship.  She was 11 years old and had never played 18 holes competitively before.  So, of course it made perfect sense to travel 8 hours so she could play three days of 18 holes in a row.  A strange decision, yes, but one that would literally change our lives.

We arrived at Capricorn Resort and you could feel the vibe.  It was friendly and relaxed, but it felt like you were a part of something special.  It’s hard to explain. During the tournament Emily played with two girls, Cassie Porter and Lion Higo.  They were a year older than her and were in a totally different league.  After 3 very long days Emily finished in 8th place (out of 10 I think).  She was stoked and very much inspired.

Emily went home from that tournament excited.  She had played with 2 girls who clearly had massive talent.  (As most of us know they are now two of the best junior golfers in the country).  Emily was determined to improve her golf and go back the following year able to compete properly.  But most of all, she just wanted to go back.  We’d met some lovely people and the atmosphere created by the organisers was like nothing else we’d been to.  It was proper fun!

The following year Emily did what she set out to do.  She came back to compete and won the 11-12 age division.  She booked her seat to travel with the team to the US.  That trip started Emily’s love of golf in America and was the beginning of lifelong friendships.  I won’t go into detail about the American trips, but I will say anyone can travel to America and compete in tournaments, but to do it as part of a team is the most priceless experience you can have.  It is worth every cent and can take you in a direction you would never have dreamed of.

Emily is 15 now and the Age Division Championship is her favourite tournament of the year.  While she always wants to play well, this tournament for her (and us as parents) is all about enjoyment.  Golf can get way too serious at times.  Occasionally everyone should take a step back and just enjoy it for what it is. There are the top junior golfers who are rightly there to try and win, right down to the beginner who may have only had a few games.  It is truly an event for everyone.

As often happens with golf events, there are clashes with dates.  Emily knew that this year she should probably be competing in a different event.  It was her choice.  But this April, she has chosen the tournament which has provided her with more opportunities than any other and has helped shape what she wants for her future.  But most importantly she has chosen friendship and fun.  And in our experience, that is what the Australian Junior Age Division Golf Championship is all about.