After more than five decades at the only golf course to host it, the Irving Jackman Memorial high school golf tournament found a new home — just 10 minutes down the road.
The announced closure of Scranton Muni last month forced Lackawanna League golf president Chris Killiany to seek a new venue for the 57th annual event, and it didn’t take long to find a volunteer.
Elmhurst Country Club will welcome boys and girls golfers for the prestigious event, set for Aug. 24 at the Roaring Brook Twp. course that already is a familiar track for league players.
Elmhurst has hosted predistrict qualifying for more than a decade and until this year, when a construction project will force it to another venue, has been the even-years host for the District 2 individual competitions.
“Our board was thrilled that we took it,” said head professional Brian Fruehan, who also is North Pocono’s golf coach. “It’s a sad thing the Muni is closing. We understand that. But it’s a good change for everybody in our conference, in my opinion. They are coming to play a really good golf course, and hopefully a kickoff to a really good season.
“Everybody has played it, so it’s not like a surprise to anybody. Anybody who made districts in the past, they’ve all played it. That’s a bonus.”
With a construction project scheduled at Elmhurst after Labor Day, hosting the Jackman gave Elmhurst a chance to showcase itself. Having hosted predistrict qualifying, district finals in both individual and team events, as well as interdistrict state events, Elmhurst’s offer was a bit of a no-brainer for Killiany.
“Brian reached out to me. I was good with that,” Killiany said. “It’s a fair course for the kids distance-wise and nothing is really too tight. But if you’re going to score you have to put your ball in the right spots, especially on the greens. There are some real good slopes on some of those greens.
“If you’re not on the right spots, the numbers can go up, as we’ve seen in predistricts and districts. Even sunny days when we thought scoring was going to be good, the wind picks up. And that can cause scores to go up. It’s a real fun course for the kids to play. Very fair, but still challenging in its own right.”
It’s also a marriage of a good course and a club that has a commitment to junior golf.
“When I told the board they were happy the kids are going to be here again this year,” Fruehan said. “We’re fortunate our board members — our whole membership — enjoys watching the kids play. You’ll get members up here just watching the kids play high school matches.
“Obviously, we’re showcasing to the parents and the kids what our golf course is, and ultimately, we’d like to get some members.”
The Jackman, named after the first chairman of the Scranton Municipal Golf Commission, will be compressed to one day. The girls tournament usually is played the week after the boys event.
As a result, only Lackawanna League schools will be eligible to compete in both events.
“With only one day, we don’t have the room to have Tunkhannock, Hazleton, Central Dauphin compete in the girls,” Killiany said.
While the Jackman will be played at Elmhurst this year, it is only scheduled there for 2020.
“So far the plan is just to play the Jackman there this year and then re-evaluate,” Killiany said. “With everything this year, I want to see how the Jackman goes there, how predistricts and districts go at Elkview. Everything as a whole, we want to see how the coaches and kids perform and how they like it.
“We want to make the best decision in terms of seeing if everything would be at one course or we split it up like we are doing this year.
“The big thing is hopefully we are playing in the fall.”
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.