PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL (WJHG/WECP) - Friday and Saturday, the Ryder Cup meets junior golf in Panama City Beach, with several of the area's best middle school and high school players competing against the St. Louis Interclub Junior Golf Association.
Each side fields a team of 14 boys and girls. The locals are all in Bay Point's Dewsweepers program, predominantly from Bay, Arnold, and Mosley. On the other side, the most deserving from nearly 200 kids enrolled in the St. Louis program.
Friday's matches are include one round of best ball and a second round of alternate shot. The Dewsweepers earned a 9-5 lead after day one, charging to a 18-10 victory after Saturday's singles matches.
The idea occurred to the chairman of the St. Louis Interclub Junior Golf Association, Jim Mclaughlin, while vacationing in his childhood stomping grounds of Bay Point. Now in year three, the event has become a yearly highlight for his group.
"When I started throwing it around St. Louis, it's like this fever pitch came on of kids thinking, 'I can play in a Ryder Cup and I can go to Florida and play a Florida team," McLaughlin said. "It is a big deal to these kids."
Given the age range, many of the participants on both sides have played in the event before.
"It's similar here, except obviously our market is a little bit smaller than St. Louis," Bay Point director of golf Ryan Mulvey said of the event's appeal. "Some of the kids in the Dewsweepers program are top junior golfers in our area."
"It's huge for our local guys," Mulvey continued. "They look forward to it every year. And they've known a lot of these kids the last couple years. They've built some camaraderie up."
The Dewsweepers victory on Saturday is their first in the event's history. Both Bay Point and St. Louis coaches hope to keep the event continuing well into the future.