Arizona's Top Junior Golfers To Play In The Willie Low Invitational at Phoenix Country Club

Phoenix Country ClubFor nearly a half a century at Phoenix Country Club, Willie Low, considered one of the Valley’s top golf professionals, mentored numerous juniors, among them Howard Twitty and a young George Boutell who would later go on to win the 1962 Arizona Amateur Championship and then become an All-American at Arizona State University.

“Willie’s biggest influence was with his own members, but he was also very active along with Red Allen and Bill Farkas and Milt Coggins in establishing city-wide interest for kids,” said Boutell. “At Phoenix Country Club (PCC) he gave free clinics every Saturday morning to young members. He was uncomplicated as a teacher and while he was a good player himself, I think he was more interested in bringing a lot of kids to the game than he was in teaching them the intricacies of the golf swing.  He dealt with the fundamentals and was very sure that each kid had a good grip and a good address position.”

The 2009 Willie Low Invitational will get underway on June 2nd at Phoenix Country Club. Started in 1969, the event has showcased the talents of junior golfers from across the state. Past winners have included two-time champion and current PGA TOUR golfer Billy Mayfair along with Ted Purdy.

Phoenix Country Club

“Willie Low was probably the most respected and beloved Golf Professional at the Club. His legacy continues today with the generations of golfers he taught the game, now introducing their children to the game of golf. There is a set of Willie Low irons as well as a picture of Willie in the golf shop to serve as a tribute to all he did for the Phoenix Country Club as well as junior golf throughout Arizona,” said Adam Brigham, Head Golf Professional at PCC.

Some of this year’s participants will include Evan Markley, who won the 2008 JGAA Thunderbird Invitational and SWSPGA State Junior Championship and was a member of the 2008 Eddie Hogan Cup team for Arizona; Ajay Wilson, defending Willie Low Invitational champion for Boys 13-14; Mieke Canan, Arizona State Junior Match Play Champion, 2009 Yuma City Girls 16-18 Champion along with three 1st Place finishes in JGAA 2008 season; Melissa Hultstrand, winner of the 2008 Willie Low Invitational for Girls 13-14 and a member of Arizona’s 2008 Girls Junior America’s Cup team and Shelby Martinek, winner of the 2008 5A Division II High School State Championship.

“There were never starting times back then, so Willie was always pairing people up for a game. A member could walk in and Willie always knew with whom that member would enjoy a round of golf. Willie never forgot a name. Guests would marvel at how Willie would call them by name after not seeing him for several years,” recalled Boutell. “If one of Willie’s junior golfers misbehaved, he would hold up two fingers. We all knew what that meant--two weeks away from the club. I know of no parent who rejected this type of Willie Low discipline. I probably led the pack in two-weekers.  I look back on that with great respect for Willie for caring enough to keep us all in line,” added Boutell.

Willie LowWillie Low began his golf career at Lakeside Golf Club in Los Angeles in the 1920's where he became lifelong friends with the likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and other celebrities.

“I am not certain how it came together, but I would bet that he introduced these great celebrities to Bob Goldwater Sr and after 70+ years of Phoenix Opens, the Valley of the Sun has been the beneficiary of these fabulous friendships,” said Boutell.

For more information on the 2009 Willie Low Invitational, contact the JGAA office at (602) 944-6168 or visit their web site at www.jgaa.org.

 

 

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