Golf is the name of the summer game for a tight-knit group of talented golfers who last school year led Payson High School to Division III state tournament runner-up honors and a bevy of first place finishes in regular season invitationals.
Mason Ridley, Jeffrey Kelley, Dean Harpe, Tod McCarthy and Katie Schouten are all competing on the Junior Golf Association and Southwest PGA Junior Golf tours.
Ridley, 15, has shown promise on the two tours winning first place in the 15-18-years boys division at the Antigua Junior Tour White Mountain District Golf Tournament June 18 at White Mountain Country Club near Pinetop.
Ridley shot an 83 to win the title by five strokes.
On June 11 at Silver Creek Golf Club near Show Low, Ridley tied for third in his division carding an 85.
In a PGA Junior Series tournament July 9 at Torreon Golf Club, Ridley finished seventh with a 92.
Kelley, 17, knows well the tremendous commitment it takes to become an outstanding golfer, having watched his older brother, Brandan, mold himself into a high school standout who went on to earn a collegiate scholarship in the sport.
Thus far this summer, Jeffrey Kelley has competed in six tournaments around Arizona.
His best showing was a tie for first at the Yuma City Junior Championships May 19-20 at Desert Hills Golf Course. There he shot a 153 (78 and 75) on the par 72 course.
At the Tucson City Junior Championships May 30 and 31 at Randolph Golf Complex and Dell Urich Golf Course, Kelley tied for 11th at 149 (78 and 71).
He also tied for 11th at the Thunderbird Junior Classic held June 13-14 at the Arizona Biltmore Country Club
Playing the Adobe course he carded 145 (73 and 72).
On June 28 and 29 in a Callaway Junior World Championships qualifier at Ahwatukee Country Club, Kelley posted a 155 (81 and 74) to take 14th overall.
Harpe, 15, has been has also been active on the summer tours playing in five JGAAA events including the Thunderbird Junior Classic at Arizona Biltmore. There he tied for ninth at 144 (73 and 71).
In the Willie Low Invitational June 12 at Phoenix Country Club he shot 75 to tie for 11th. Over the course of the tournament, he bested par on three holes and tied par on nine holes.
On June 25-26 in the USGA Junior Amateur qualifier at Alta Mesa Country Club, he tied for 17th at 150 (74-76).
McCarthy played his way to 10th in the July 9 PGA Junior Series tournament at Torreon and was second June 25 at a junior tournament held at Pinetop Lakes Country Club.
Schouten’s best showing of the summer was a first place finish in the 15-18 girls division at the Antigua Junior Tour at White Mountain Country Club on June 18.
If there was a summer tournament that turned into a reunion-of-sorts for a trio of young Rim Country golfers it was the Willie Low Invitational that drew Blake Cannon, Tyler Apps and Harpe.
Cannon, formerly of Payson but now a resident of Scottsdale, tied for 14th in the boys 15-18 division.
Apps, a former PHS star bound for Grand Canyon University on academic and golf scholarships, tied for 19th the same division.
Harpe who was a PHS varsity starter last year as a freshman tied for 11th.
All of the Payson youth are expected to continue to hone their skills on the summer tour including a White Mountain tournament at Snowflake played yesterday, July 16, and the season-ending Antigua Junior Tour Championships July 31 and Aug. 1 at Antelope Hills near Prescott.
The two courses there will be nothing new for the PHS golfers. Last season, they played the Division III state championship there struggling on opening day, but rebounding the second day to win the state silver medal.