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County : GOLF / PETER YOON

Generation Next on the Tee

July 17, 1998|PETER YOON

Kids.

They do the darndest things, don't they?

Lately they've been doing some of those things on the golf course.

Like 16-year-old Anne Lee of Northridge setting a women's course record of 66 at Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club during the fourth round of the Rolex Tournament of Champions.

In the same tournament, John Ray Leary, 17, of Culver City set a course record of 64 in the first round and John Lepak, 17, of La Habra Heights matched it in the second round.

Last month, Lepak set a course record at Rancho San Marcos Golf Course in Santa Barbara.

Then along comes 12-year-old Henry Liaw of Rowland Heights, fresh off a two-stroke victory over Brandon Christianson of Valencia in the Junior World Championship, shooting a 58 to set a course record at Alhambra Municipal Golf Course.

It makes you wonder just where these kids came from and how they got so good.

But have no fear, there are more coming and there are people out there making sure they do.

The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, which has taken great strides recently to make golf more accessible to youngsters, takes perhaps its biggest step next Thursday when it breaks ground on the city's first golf training center exclusively for kids.

Named after the late Marty Tregnan, a longtime supporter of youth golf programs, the facility will be built on the site of the old Coolidge pitch-and-putt course in Griffith Park.

"Kids will finally have their own place," said John Morrison, director of the LPGA Urban Youth Golf Program, which will provide equipment and instruction at the Tregnan Center.

The LPGA is not the only golf giant to take part in the facility.

A grant from the USGA has funded the project. American Golf will build it.

The Tregnan Center will consist of a 1,500-square foot clubhouse, a driving range, two large chipping and putting greens and two full-sized practice holes.

"We're trying to reach people that don't have access to quality golf lessons," said Mary Braunwarth, project coordinator for the City of Los Angeles. "Most of these kids enroll in recreation centers where they play in basketball and baseball leagues. This is another option."

Interest in junior golf is booming. The number of participants in Morrison's program has nearly doubled in the last two years. With a full capacity of nearly 700 youngsters, Morrison said there is a waiting list of 300.

"We've only got so many courses and so many instructors," he said. "That's where the Tregnan Center will help."

The Department of Recreation and Parks recently passed a rate reduction for junior golfers at its public courses. Players 7-17 can play Monday through Friday for $5 on a walk-on basis and for $7 with a reservation after 12 noon at city courses.

Those under 13 must have certification.

Those courses include Encino, Balboa, Wilson, Harding, Woodley Lakes and Hansen Dam in the Valley Region.

*

The San Fernando Valley will be represented on two teams competing for the Morse Cup in the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship Aug. 4-7 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.

Craig Steinberg of Van Nuys, the L.A. City champion and medalist in the California Amateur Championship, will team with Mark Johnson of Helendale and California Amateur champion Ed Cuff Jr. of Temecula on the Southern California Golf Assn. team.

Tim Hogarth of Chatsworth, who won the U.S. Public Links championship and the L.A. City championship in 1996, joins SCGA Mid-Amateur champion Brian Ricketts of Alhambra and Guy Livesay of La Habra on the Southern California Public Links Golf Assn. team.

*

Los Angeles City women's champion Linda Chen-Olsen of Granada Hills and Jody Duclos of Moorpark head a list of entrants from the region who will compete in the California Women's Championship beginning Monday at Del Mar Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe.

This is the third annual California Women's championship, a tournament developed when the six major governing bodies of Women's Golf in California got together to co-sponsor a championship.

Other entrants representing the region are Dina Clifford of Calabasas Country Club, Anna-Lena Gustavson of Saticoy Country Club, Amy Hagen of Woodley Lakes Golf Course and Linda Pearson of La Canada Country Club.

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