For three decades, Bellefonte Country Club has opened its doors to top junior golfers from across the country and beyond by hosting the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior.
When Golf Digest magazine recently announced its 2013 Junior Development Awards, BCC stood tall as the “Club” Award recipient.
The Bluegrass Junior at Bellefonte, held in June, is the longest continuously running tournament on the American Junior Golf Association’s sprawling schedule.
“It was a total surprise when the AJGA contacted us about being in Golf Digest,” said Stan Timberlake, manager of Bellefonte Country Club. “I think it’s a great honor for the club to get that kind of recognition.”
NRP Bluegrass Junior tournament director Jeff Conley echoed that sentiment.
“I’m glad to see Bellefonte Country Club in the spotlight,” Conley said. “It’s a magazine that’s internationally known, as well as nationally. This is a great honor for Bellefonte.”
The course, a Willie Park Jr. design dating back to 1921, is short by today’s standards but traditionally yields few 54-hole scores below par to the up-and-coming teen golfers. What sets the event apart, however, is a reputation for warm hospitality and volunteer support.
“This honor actually is for the entire community, how they get behind the tournament,” Timberlake said. “(BCC) members are willing to give up the club for a whole week, plus all the community involvement required to pull it off.”
As noted by Golf Digest, “The entire community helps out, several locals taking their annual vacation to volunteer. Funds raised go to the community high school golf programs, Yancey Scholarship fund and the Eastern Kentucky Junior Golf Association.”
Golf Digest included a photo of 2013 Bluegrass Junior winners Patrick Martin (Birmingham, Ala.) and Haylee Harford (Leavittsburg, Ohio) standing in front of the BCC clubhouse.
Overall, Junior Development Awards were passed out in five categories. The “Individual” honor went to Jack Nicklaus, a longtime advocate for junior golf.
“The first thing that caught my eye was our picture being beside Jack Nicklaus,” said Timberlake, a golf enthusiast whose son Travis played in the Bluegrass Junior in 1999 and later competed on the college level.
According to the magazine article, “This year's winners are not new to golf. Many were around in 1984 when Golf Digest gave its first junior development awards. They have remained dedicated to young golfers. In doing so, they join the list of clubs, individuals, municipalities, associations and corporations honored for bringing kids into the game.”
Along with the Bluegrass Junior, Bellefonte Country Club hosts EKJGA and Tri-State Junior Golf Tour events.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.