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Sun, April 18

Canyon students can<br>now hit the links

Golf has come to Grand Canyon. No, the old golf course at Tusayan is not being revived and tourists hopefully aren’t teeing off from an overlook into the great depths below. But local youth are able to take up the sport as a member of the Grand Canyon Links Club.

The Grand Canyon School Board approved the formation of the club during its regular meeting earlier this month. Athletic director Dan Lopez made the proposal along with Davey Jones of the American Legion.

"It’s always been a dream of mine to initiate something like this at Grand Canyon, being an avid golfer," Jones said. "What golf instills in our young people, things like discipline and companionship ... I’ve always felt it just makes a kid feel better to do well in other things. It’s like a life skill, golf."

Lopez compiled a list of several donations that were made to get the club going, along with the proposed bylaws and minutes from the Elephant Rocks Men’s Club meeting on March 26.

At the men’s club meeting, Lopez requested funds to purchase golf bags for the Grand Canyon junior program. Lopez mentioned the various sponsors in the Grand Canyon area, although the school board had not yet approved anything.

The men’s club voted unanimously to provide funds not to exceed $700 for the purchase of golf bags.

"We’ve come up with quite a few donations and we’re willing to take our time," Jones said. "I’m not a PGA pro, but I can give you references as to the abilities of me as a teacher."

Perhaps the most important fact brought up to the school board was there would be no financial impact to the budget. Any cost will be covered by the club and no stipends will be paid to the sponsor.

Board member Tammie Harris asked Lopez why the club was being organized through the school instead of another organization. Besides access to school vans for transportation (with gas paid for by the club), Lopez referred to the possible future formation of a Phantom golf team.

"The original idea was for the club to compete in the 1A-3A conference tournaments, however, the majority of the matches are on Monday and Wednesday, which prohibits the club from competing," Lopez said.

Williams High School began a golf program four years ago and has seen progress. The Vikings won the district championship last year and will be hosting the state championships at Elephant Rocks next month.

Lopez said he’s had a lot of interest from students.

"A benefit will be the 10 kids who signed up aren’t playing any spring sport," Lopez said. "So we’re not drawing away from any existing program."

Lopez did make a proposal for having a more stringent academic requirement for golfers to be eligible. In the bylaws, it was suggested that club members have at least a 3.0 grade-point average. However, the school board nixed that idea saying it should not be any more restrictive than any other club.

Lopez said the higher GPA was proposed as a way of motivating those students involved. Lopez said four of the 10 who signed up were borderline on their grades. "We just thought that might be the carrot for them to stay at 3.0," he said.

School superintendent Ray Vernon said board policy dictates the minimum GPA.

Lopez was also asked if the club was for both boys and girls.

"Three girls expressed interest, but are not signed up," he said. "It is currently all boys, but it’s not limited to boys."

Among the donations were $1,000 from three sources, seven to nine sets of golf clubs, three golf bags, a driver, 300 golf balls and other golf bags to be purchased with money through the men’s club.

Lopez and Jones will donate their time as coaches.

"Money that has been donated will be used for netting, whiffle golf balls and hitting mats allowing us to practice without needing a lot of space," Lopez said. "We would also like to purchase team polo shirts."

By becoming a club, the group could receive future funding through the state’s extracurricular activity tax credit.

The golf club will be playing on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Williams this summer.

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