Palm Beach Gardens youth golf team victorious in Scotland


A smile from golfer Phil Mickelson made Madison Hyndman’s day last month at the 2018 Open Championship in Scotland.

Winning the Junior Ryder Cup Challenge several days later wasn’t so bad, either.

Hyndman, 11, along with 14 other members of the Palm Beach Gardens Youth Athletic Association junior golf team, defeated a local team from Scotland, 73-71, to claim the championship at Dalmahoy Golf Course in Edinburgh.

The tournament was tied 4-4 after all eight, two-man matches were complete — one coach per team also played — so the winner was determined by points per hole.

RELATED: Palm Beach Gardens youth baseball complex getting $3.5 million upgrade

The PBGYAA team, composed of players ages 9-17, edged the Scottish team on points. Players and coach Sherri Pla got the news while eating lunch.

“We were eating and waiting,” said Pla, who is the head golf professional at Sandhill Crane Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens. “It was so close. We were on pins and needles. It was amazing.”

The Junior Ryder Cup Challenge was played near the end of the PBGYAA golf team’s 10-day trip to Scotland, which began July 17.

The team spent much of its time sightseeing and playing golf. It visited six golf courses during its trip, Pla said, including historic courses at St Andrews, Scotscraig and Carnoustie Golf Links, where the 2018 Open Championship was played.

“The goal for us was to give the kids a life-changing experience,” Pla said. “We got to experience different countries, we got to experience kids from different cultures, and experience the history of the game they love. They all love golf, and then to go to the home and birthplace of golf — we created our own trip around that.”

Team members, like King’s Academy senior Joseph Lemke, 17, marveled at the differences between the Scottish links courses compared to the ones at home.

RELATED: Lake Worth globe-trotting golf prodigy Alexa Pano set for U.S. Amateur

Links courses, which are common in Ireland and Great Britain, are found along the coastline and have rolling hills, sand dunes and bunkers, tall grass and few trees.

“The golf over there is different,” Lemke said. “It’s not like playing here, where there’s a lot of water. It’s really a lot of tall grass. It’s not really like anything you’d see over here. It’s just such a learning experience for all the kids to see it and experience it. You watch it on TV all the time, but you never really know how it feels to play there.”

Lemke and his teammates earned that opportunity by embarking on a six-month fundraising initiative. The players collected donations at supermarkets and golf tournaments, volunteered at special events and set up a GoFundMe page.

They also received donations from The Honda Classic, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, The Gardens Mall and the city of Palm Beach Gardens, among others. In total, the team raised $65,000 to send all 15 players to Scotland. Parents paid their own way.

“We did as much as we could to have the kids really front and center, and to understand what it’s like to earn their way,” Pla said. “We had such huge support from the community.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Santaluces Principal to students: UPS lost your college credit exams
Santaluces Principal to students: UPS lost your college credit exams

Some 200 Palm Beach County high school students who expected to get the results of the college credit exams they took last spring instead learned this week that their tests were lost en route by the United Parcel Service. Santaluces High Principal Tameka Robinson broke the news to students and families Tuesday in a letter home. One solution: Students...
After backlash, Delray rebuffs controversial West Atlantic land deal
After backlash, Delray rebuffs controversial West Atlantic land deal

A small group of Delray Beach residents eked out a victory for their neighborhood Wednesday evening, when they convinced a city board to walk back a controversial land deal. The Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency was poised to sell six acres of land along West Atlantic Avenue valued at $15 million to a developer for just $2 million. But after...
Priest who worked in Boca accused of abuse by Pennsylvania grand jury
Priest who worked in Boca accused of abuse by Pennsylvania grand jury

A priest who was affiliated with Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton is accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy and sexually abusing unidentified others in a scathing report issued Tuesday by a Pennsylvania grand jury that conducted a sweeping investigation into clergy misconduct. Monsignor Thomas Benestad was among the scores of &ldquo...
School board OKs $372K marketing push to support proposed tax hike
School board OKs $372K marketing push to support proposed tax hike

Palm Beach County public schools are preparing a big-ticket marketing push to educate voters about a proposed property tax increase on the ballot in November, one that would raise teacher salaries and provide extra school security. With three months until county residents vote on the proposal, school board members on Wednesday voted to spend up...
Boynton police crack down on school-zone speeders
Boynton police crack down on school-zone speeders

With school back in session, nearly 200,000 students have returned to class in Palm Beach County. That means more cars on the road in the mornings and afternoons, and also the return of another school-year staple in Boynton Beach: 20-mph speed limits in school zones. “This is not a new program,” police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said...
More Stories