The kids are back home from summer vacation and back in school.
However, for South Florida’s junior golfers, the word “vacation” might not be the correct one.
Most people don’t realize it, but most of South Florida’s junior golfers — from elementary school through high school — play what can be a treacherous, tiring amount of tournaments under the hot summer sun.
Many parents can testify that if they don’t keep a close watch, kids can get staggeringly tired, lose weight and can get golfed-out as they play some of the most beautiful and historic courses throughout Florida and the country. The motto, from the kids’ standpoints, seems to be, “No school, let’s play golf.”
Kids, by nature, are tough to slow down and the South Florida golf contingent had a superb summer this year. A few examples:
• Tyler Strafaci: Tyler’s father, Frank, called this year’s golf schedule for his son “the summer gauntlet.” Tyler more than survived it. The returning Plantation American Heritage player won the Florida State Junior Match Play in Harmony. In medal play for that tournament he shot 69-71 and ran away with the final, going 6-under-par for 14 holes and winning 5-4. That was Tyler’s first state title.
Earlier in the summer, Tyler narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur.
• Julie Steinbauer: The Carrollton graduate won two gold medals at the Maccabiah Games, also commonly referred to as the Jewish Olympics. She captured the individual gold and led the U.S. team to a team gold on the only 18-hole course in Israel — located some 45 minutes from Tel Aviv.
Only problem: “The course is home to many snakes,” Steinbauer was warned before playing.
Steinbauer has taken her gold medals to Rollins College, where she will play on scholarship for the Tars.
• Robert Geibel: The former player for talent-laden American Heritage qualified for the U.S. Amateur, sending him to the famed Country Club in Brookline, Mass. He didn’t win the U.S. Amateur, but he had the experience of his young golfing lifetime.
Geibel, putting together a strenuous summer array of tournaments, also was the low amateur in the Florida Open and finished second in the prestigious Oglethorpe Invitational near Savannah, Ga.
He has headed north for college to play for Louisville.
Geibel’s attitude is simple. “Work separates the good from the great.”
Well-known South Florida teaching pro Barry Goldstein, who works out of Inverrary Country Club in Broward, made a list of some 80 men and women on the Edwin Watts Top Golf Instructors list.
“What an honor,” Goldstein said.
What makes it so special? That’s simple to answer. Also on the list, among others, are Bob Toski, Jim McLean, David Ledbetter, Peter Kostis and all three of the people — Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and current coach Sean Foley — who have guided Tiger Woods.