Watson to Design Children's Course in Missouri

The St. Joseph News Press reports that native son Tom Watson is designing a golf course for juniors in Maryville, Mo. The layout, which will allow kids to improve their golf skills, will be built on prairie land in Nodaway County.

"This golf course is short by normal standards," Watson told reporter Bryce Mereness during a media gathering on Wednesday afternoon. "This course is designed for beginners, for kids or anybody, really, to play the game where you aren't forced to play 400-yard par-4s or 500-yard par-5s or 180-yard par-3s - things that are manageable for beginning golfers.

"That's the whole idea for this, to make it fun for them and not too long, where they can hit a shot and get rewarded for it."

The project is the brainchild of local dentist Dr. Bruce Twaddle, who was inspired to pursue a children's course after visiting Scotland before the 2011 British Open. His caddie noted a group of young kids playing on a shorter course.

"They had a sign there that said, 'No adults allowed unless under the direct supervision of a child,' " Dr. Twaddle told Mereness. "That's when the light went off. Everyone I related that story to, it made sense.

"It's an easy sell because we have the land, we have the resources to do this, and we have the people in the community who believe in young children and want to help develop them."

Dr. Twaddle came home and began fundraising for the project. Watson, a Kansas City native and 39-time PGA Tour winner with eight major victories in his Hall of Fame career, will bring considerable prestige to the course, which will be built to the east of the 18-hole Mozingo Lake Golf Course.

An associate with Watson's design company, Bob Gibbons, has routed the nine-hole layout. Gibbons has prior experience with short courses, having designed one at Swope Park in Kansas City and four others on the East Coast.

"One of (the challenges) is making the course easily walkable," Gibbons told Mereness. "The biggest thing, as Tom pointed out, is to be playable. We want the kids to be able to find their ball and hit it again. We want to make it challenging for them, but we don't want to make it too hard to where they lose interest in the game."

The organizers are looking to be aligned with First Tee, whose board of directors will meet later this week to discuss the issue. The course is expected to cost $550,000; the backers have already raised $25,000 with commitments for another $100,000. Maryville city manager Greg McDanel said reserve money might be used to cover any potential shortfalls.

If all goes well with fundraising and construction, the new nine-hole children's course at Mozingo Lake could open for play in spring 2015.

For Mereness's full story, visit http://www.newspressnow.com/sports/article_57c6555b-9147-5641-879b-37782f612239.html.