By Janet Cruz
The Lake Havasu Golf Club sees many locals and visitors hitting the green and enjoying the game of golf. Among those golfers are some very young rising stars right here in Lake Havasu City.
Derek McCoy, age 17
Lake Havasu teen Derek McCoy, is set to participate in the South West Junior PGA Championship at the Talking Stick Golf Club- O’odham Course in Scottsdale, in a few weeks.
McCoy has golfed for most of his life. When he was about 3 years old, he recalls first visiting the golf range.
“My dad started taking me to the range when I was little. The first time I picked up the club I was just swinging it and I actually found I liked the sport,” he said.
In order for McCoy to work on his skills, he gets to practice by being involved in the Lake Havasu High School Golf team, which also partners with the Lake Havasu Golf Club allowing for young athletes to practice the game.
Youth involved in golf or wanting to learn can practice at the golf club course. The Golf Club allows anyone under the age of 17 to play for free on the golf course.
“Golf is such an expensive sport, so it’s a great opportunity for the kids to play some free range balls and hit the course,” says Jake Roy PGA Apprentice, Lake Havasu Golf Club. It definitely sparks the beginning for many players,” he adds.
McCoy has been involved in a few tournaments and has qualified to enter in the upcoming championship in Scottsdale. If he finishes in the top two at the Southwest Junior PGA Championship, he will move on to the National PGA Championship which takes place in August also in Scottsdale.
“Without my dad, I don’t think I would be here since he introduced me to the game,” says McCoy. “I am also grateful for the opportunity to get to practice at the Lake Havasu Golf Club.”
McCoy’s long-time goal includes a career in golf and to make it to the PGA pro level.
Taylor Schmitt, age 10
Decked in her pink golf gear, 10-year-old Lake Havasu resident Taylor Schmitt, is just as serious about her golf game too, and is seen driving, chip putting and hitting the green at Lake Havasu Golf Club.
Back in 2020, before moving to Lake Havasu City, Schmitt was in Las Vegas with her family during the pandemic shutdowns. There weren’t many activities open to do because everything around had closed or were placed on hold at the time. That’s when Schmitt’s father, a golfer himself, built a net in their backyard to keep her active.
“She was really excited about just doing something different because she’s been in theater, dance and other extracurricular activities but at that time lots of things shut down so this kept her busy and active,” said Kara Schmitt, Taylor’s mother.
“She started hitting the ball, and it would eventually take her to the golf course from there,” she said.
Taylor has been involved in a few tournaments in Las Vegas. In her most recent tournament on May 28 in Palm Springs, Calif., she took second place overall.
According to Schmitt, her daughter really wanted to focus on getting better. At one point she took a whole year off and went to the Lake Havasu golf Club course three times a week to improve her skills and continues to do so today.
“Since we moved here, she enjoys the free Monday Golf program at the Lake Havasu Golf Club. It is just an extra fun element for her,” Schmitt said.
As for Taylor’s favorite part about the sport, she says she enjoys that it is an individual activity and takes the pressure off from depending on teammates.
“She likes it because it’s not a team sport, so she can control what she does and how she does it.
She was able to meet some really great coaches which includes Travis from the golf club who recently passed away. My husband is the one who trains her primarily. He takes her every day after school to the golf course,” she said.
Taylor’s goal is to one day make it a career at the pro level as well.
For more information on the next free “The Juniors At Lake Havasu Golf Club” program starting June 19, contact Jake Roy, PGA Apprentice and Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org or Craig Adams, PGA Teaching Professional at 928-727-3324. Free breakfast and snacks will be available for kids who participate.