SPRINGFIELD — John Wilkinson wants the kids to put away the Xbox — even if the Tiger Woods game might make them masters at club selection — and get out on the golf course. The longtime local teaching pro has focused much of his energy on making Springfield the capital of junior golf in Ohio.
The next step in Wilkinson’s plan is a tournament at Windy Knoll Golf Club from July 16 to July 19. He’s calling it the Ohio Junior Golf Classic, which was the name of a tournament that used to be held at Woodland Golf Course in Champaign County.
“We’re really trying to get behind the juniors and get them involved in golf and make Clark County a force to be reckoned with,” said Wilkinson, a teaching pro at Windy Knoll who also runs the Down Under Par Golf Academy on Leffel Lane in Springfield.
Wilkinson believes this tournament will be the only four-round junior event in the country, not counting those that have a cut after two rounds.
“I just thought it would be unique,” Wilkinson said. “Kids like to compete. I just watched the U.S. Open. The British Open is about to come through. This is what these guys do each week. They work like heck for four days. You don’t realize how mentally draining this sport is. They’re going to find out how challenging it is. It’ll be a wonderful teaching experience.”
Wilkinson has taught junior golfers throughout his career. His first pupil back in his home country of Australia was Adam Riley, who died of leukemia at 14 two years after Wilkinson first met him. The first-place winner in the 14-15 age group at this tournament will win the Adam Riley Memorial Trophy.
The tournament is open to boys and girls aged 10-17 and costs $125. The entry deadline is July 9. To register, visit DownUnderParGolf.com.
Wilkinson, who is working all summer with another instructor, Danny Lee of Gravity Golf, said Windy Knoll is in fine shape since the new owners took over.
“They’re really doing a good job,” he said. “Each week the greens and the condition of the course is looking better. I’m really impressed with it.”