Girls’ Junior Americas Cup: A ‘special’ experience
One of the most prestigious, and unique, events in junior golf landed in Carson Valley this week as the Girls’ Junior Americas Cup kicked off at Genoa Lakes with opening ceremonies on Monday.
The event, which has been conducted annually since 1978, draws the top golfers between the ages of 14 and 17 from the Western United States, Mexico and Canada.
Players represent their respective regions in four-person teams and compete for the team title over the course of three days and 54 holes of golf.
For those who have the opportunity to play in the tournament, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For Greg Enholm, the golf sales and special events representative for the Carson Valley Inn, this week’s tournament has been a trip down memory lane.
Enholm, 34, served as a rule book official and timecard keeper for this week’s tournament, but he also competed in the Boys’ Junior Americas Cup at Edgewood Tahoe in 1994.
“It was just an awesome experience,” he said. “It really is one of the reasons I live here now. I just fell in love with the area during that week. It was a special time.”
Enholm competed for team Arizona as a junior in high school that year.
“I’d been playing golf since I was 10 years old and the competition level was just incredible,” he said. “In Arizona, all you do is golf all year. It’s a great year-round sport. So I grew up with it. Getting the chance to represent my state and play against such a high level of competition was a special experience.”
Enholm said he finished in the middle of the pack that year. He went on to compete for the New Mexico State men’s golf team, where he had more run-ins with the Sierra Nevada.
“We were in the Big West conference, so naturally we had to come up and play the University of Nevada,” he said. “The Big West Championships in 1997 were up at Dayton Valley, so I got to come to the area again.”
He went back to Arizona after college, but after nine years decided he couldn’t handle the heat any more.
“I also got to ski a bit growing up, so I really wanted to move somewhere where there was good golf and good skiing,” he said. “I got a job as a PGA pro up in Reno and then the opportunity with the CVI came up in January. I jumped at the chance.”
Enholm serves as the president of the Sierra Nevada chapter of PGA and first heard last summer that the Girls’ Junior Americas Cup would be coming to Northern Nevada.
“Part of our initiative as golf professionals is just staying involved with junior golf however you can,” he said. “An event like this is a huge deal, both for the kids playing and for the people in the region to see what the sport is all about.
“We want to get more girls involved in the game because numbers have been down across the country lately. We want to find new ways to promote the game for kids and for families. Golf is a lifetime sport. Getting hooked early and learning how to play is key in that. This type of tournament is big in promoting that.”
Enholm said the level of play he’s seen this week has been phenomenal.
“There are a handful of girls this week that will be able to go pro,” he said. “Probably five or six we’ll see on the LPGA Tour down the road. It really is an incredible level of competition.”
The tournament rotates sites every year between the 18 representing regions. Northern Nevada won’t get another shot at it until 2029.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for our Valley,” Enholm said. “It’s about promoting golf, finding a new group of kids to come up and compete in the future. We got to show off a great course and maybe some of these girls will want to come back down the road.”
Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.