A wide search for young, untapped golfing talents was put in motion over the weekend after the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines broke grounds with local officials in Negros Occidental for the grassroots development program.
They knew exactly where to go as the province is hotbed for golf greatness being the home to the likes of Golem Silverio, Robert Pactolerin, Francis Gaston and Juvic Pagunsan.
Through the Pyke Braga Sports Foundation, the program has drawn the support of three golf clubs and local government units, led by Gov. Eugenio “Bong” Lacson.
They are NOGCC (formerly Marapara), Bacolod Golf and Country Club (Binitin), and Victorias Golf Club.
Present during the meeting were Braga, Lacson, JGFP president Oliver Gan, former Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club president Joemarie Limjap, NOGCC junior golf president Cristopher Matti, and incoming JGFP director Justin Limjap.
Also in attendance were Pactolerin, Bobe Salahog, and Nilo Salahog.
Initially, the group plans to hold monthly tournaments beginning next month. Matti said the initial pool of golfers numbering 30 are club dependents and children of caddies and club employees.
“We hope to bring the number to 100,” said Matti, a former junior golfer himself.
Lacson, who pledged his full support to the program, said he and Bacolod Mayor Albee Benitez will bankroll the first six tournaments to get the program off and running.
Braga said Victorias can be used as the training ground for aspiring golfers.
Joemarie Limjap said the golf clubs have long been supportive of junior golfers, opening their facilities for free.
Gan, who, together with JGFP chairman Tommy Manotoc is pushing for a nationwide program, hailed the initiative and pledged the support and resources of the foundation.
“We will let you guys handle the nitty-gritty details with the JGFP assuming a supportive role,” said Gan who suggested holding a big tournament in March where top juniors from Luzon and Mindanao can also participate.
“Our dream is for the Visayas to have its interschool tournaments, similar to what is being done in Luzon and Mindanao,” he said.