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Nansemond River hosting state’s best junior golfers

In just over a week, Nansemond River Golf Club and the club’s PGA professional, Mark Lambert, will play host to the state’s best junior golfers.

The 20th VSGA (Virginia State Golf Association) Junior Match Play Championship will be contested from June 22-25. The champ will have to be the best over four days and 108 holes of golf give or take a couple.

It’s a big tournament and a fine honor for the course says Lambert, who’s been the head pro and general manager at Nansemond River since the course opened in 1999.

“It’s probably the biggest event we’ve had here,” Lambert said.

The course that winds along the Nansemond River and bordering marsh land has hosted other VSGA events, such as the Senior Four-Ball Championship, the Senior Stroke Play Championship and the Ladies State Team Matches, in recent years. This is another level up though.

“A lot of these guys are future college players. They’re the best juniors in the state,” Lambert said.

More than 120 players, ages 14-18, will be in the field. Two days of stroke play will cut the field down to the top 16. Thursday and Friday will have two match-play rounds each.

There won’t be any changes to the course, said Lambert. The rough won’t be allowed to grow more than normal. The greens won’t be faster than any other day.

“It’ll be challenging enough,” Lambert said. The one decision the VSGA could make is to have some tee boxes placed at or near the blue-tee distances, instead of from the white tees, on some holes.

Having a successful tournament always bodes well for a course to have the same tournament return, or a more prestigious one come, whether it’s a VSGA event or with another organization.

“We’re kind of working our way up with these events. We’re very excited. We feel we have a good course for challenging golf,” Lambert said. “One reason is the length of the course can go up to 7,300 yards, so that makes it possible we could host anything in the state.”

For the junior matches, Lambert thinks the VSGA officials, when they come to setup the course the day before the tournament, will make the course between 6,600-6,800 yards.

“We’re hoping spectators come out, especially on Thursday and Friday when it’s down to the finals,” Lambert said. There will be no charge for admission.

There is one other way to get a first-hand view of a lot of the play, and help out the players and Nansemond River at the same time. Lambert and the club are looking for additional volunteers.

“Mainly to shuttle kids from greens to tees and to make sure everyone on the course has plenty of water,” Lambert said.

The players, even with June’s normal heat and humidity in Southeastern Virginia, and even with 36 or more holes in a day, have to walk. Lambert asks anyone interested in volunteering to call the course at 539-4356.