PRINCETON — The Illinois Valley High School Summer Golf League reached its midway point of the season with play on a hot, calm Wednesday morning at Wyaton Hills Golf Course on the outskirts of Princeton.
It was a homecoming of sorts for several involved, beginning with league organizer Mason Kimberley, who played golf for Princeton High School and is currently the coach for the Hall Red Devils.
Kimberley’s grandfather, Fred, according to Wyaton Hills owner Max Halberg Jr., was one of the first golfers off the tee when Carl Gustafson opened the course in 1960.
“That’s really cool, because Mason would grow up to play in tournaments with his grandfather as partners,” Halberg said.
“Personally, I grew up on this course,” Kimberley said. “So I know how challenging it can be for the kids. This is the third year I’ve done this league but the first year we’ve come to Wyaton Hills.
“But that’s whole purpose (of the league), so that kids could see the courses before the fall, so they know what they’re getting into.”
This fall with be the first time in a long time for the PHS golf teams, both boys and girls, to make Wyaton Hills as their home course for the season.
“The girls team was last here when Roger Lowe was their coach,” Halberg said. “Last year, they played the Tiger Invitational here, so I’m excited to see them come out and play.
“A lot of these kids I gave lessons to when they were little, and some of them I gave lessons to their fathers,” he said. “I’ve been around here long enough that it’ll be the grandfathers next,” he said, laughing.
PHS golfer Caleb Alter, who will be a senior this year, said he is happy his team is setting up shop at Wyaton Hills for home meets.
“I didn’t do this (summer league) last year, but I really like it because it’s not that serious,” Alter said. “But you still get to see some of the competitors you’ll have during the season, and see how they’re doing.”
Putnam County’s Ian Roach, who tied for 10th at the 1A state meet in Bloomington last season, is looking forward to improving in his senior year.
“I’ve been doing a lot of practicing in my back yard,” he said. “Working hard on my short game to keep my scoring good even when my long game is off.”
Ali Ciucci, who will be a senior for the Lady Panthers this fall, made the most of the league’s stop at Wyaton.
“This course I really enjoy,” she said. “It’s hilly, it’s challenging, but I like it. Looking forward to playing this year, especially with my sister (Gracie), who’s a freshman.”
League play will resume at Mendota Golf Club on July 11, followed by Pine Hills Golf Club in Ottawa (July 17) and Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club in LaSalle (July 24).