For a town as well known for golf as Williamsburg, there wasn’t a way for members of school golf teams to play together — and compete — in the offseason as there are with other sports. That’s something that the Williamsburg Performance Golf Club is seeking to change.
Williamsburg Performance Golf Club’s co-founder Doug Meredith has served as the head golf coach at Jamestown High School since 2003 and has overseen several state championships, including last year, but the lack of a local youth league outside of the school’s golf season has troubled him for several years.
“Golf is like any other sport, the players need to maintain the level of practice that they do during the regular season and to play in tournaments outside of high school golf in order to stay competitive,” said Meredith. “That’s what I wanted to see in a larger sense with my team at Jamestown, and the WPGC gives them the chance to do just that, practice year-round, and compete in tournaments they might not otherwise be able to even play in.”
After working out the details over the past few years, Meredith launched the Williamsburg Performance Golf Club in January. The group has 10 golfers, mostly high school students from Lafayette and Jamestown, but also two middle school students from Hornsby and Berkeley. They practice two or three afternoons a week at the Williamsburg National Golf Club, and have begun going as a group to various youth tournaments.
Brady Clavel plays for Jamestown, and said that having a junior golf organization has been incredibly helpful.
“It’s very nice to be able to play golf year-round, it's like anything else, when you don’t do it for a while, you find yourself forgetting even the simple stuff,” said Clavel. “Being able to hit the green outside of the fall, you not only get to keep playing, but you also keep getting better.”
Jack Devore, another member of the Jamestown golf team who has joined the Williamsburg Performance Golf Club, said he was looking for the kind of structure missing outside of the school season.
“During the high school season, there’s a lot of structure around you, but afterward, you may play some on your own, but nothing really instructive or competitive,” said Devore. “That’s why something like WPGC is great, you get that structure, some real practice and compete in some tournaments the other nine months out fo the year, and it’s been a great experience.”
Devore also says it’s been nice to be able to play with other young golfers who attend different schools.
“During the school year, we’re always competing with each other, but it’s different to be able to not just play and practice with each other but get to know the other guys,” said Devore. “I’ve made friends with a few of them, and we help push each other to do that much better.”
That, as much as any improvement in play, was the main goals in establishing the Williamsburg Performance Golf Club, according to coach and co-founder Noel Clavel.
A former Division I wrestler in college, who has also spent a few years as a youth wrestling coach in Williamsburg, he knows the kind of impact that has a year-round program can have on a young athlete, not only on their abilities but on the community.
“As many year-round sports clubs as there are for kids in Williamsburg, from wrestling to swimming, there wasn’t any such opportunity for young golfers,” said Clavel. “We’ve been thrilled to see the kind of impact it’s had even in the short time since the club started, but also the kind of support we’ve seen from the community after starting it — if there are any two things this town loves, its golf and our kids.”
Overall, with the first year of the club well underway, and the next high school golf season coming in the fall, most at the Williamsburg Performance Golf Club have high hopes for the club’s future.
“We’re open to anybody, boys and girls, middle and high school kids, we just want to grow the game, and support these kids as they pursue this wonderful sport,” said Meredith. “Williamsburg is a great community if you love golf, and we’re hoping we can create a place for the kids here who love the sport too.”
The next tournament golfers from WPGC will compete in will be the two-day Junior Open at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club on May 11-12.
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email email@example.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.