Locals take shot at AJCA qualifying at Querbes

TEED UP:  Querbes Park pro Nathan Barrow and his staff are ready for competition to begin today at the AJGA Shreveport event involving junior golfers from around the country.


Nathan Barrow figured it was worth a shot, but wasn’t really sure it would ever happen.

When Southern Trace announced it would be closed for renovations, that meant the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) would be looking for a place to hold its annual event in 2022.

So the local sponsors got in touch with Barrow, who was once the pro at Southern Trace but is now at Querbes Park, the venerable city-run facility that has been around for almost 100 years.

When the AJGA sent a representative from its headquarters in Georgia to tour the course in the fall, Barrow figured that might be the end of that.

Instead, the AJGA told Barrow, “We’d love to come.”

What’s taking place at Querbes this week is a little bit bigger than the Elks’ Club four-man scramble. Sure, the course has held the City Championship on a regular basis and has hosted an occasional high school state championship in the past.

But this is big. Really big. The biggest event at Querbes in … (feel free to fill in the blank)?

Junior golfers from around the country will be playing in the AJGA Shreveport event. On Tuesday, 64 golfers will be vying for only nine qualifying spots. Beginning Wednesday, there will be 45 boys and 18 girls in the field for the three-day event.

“It’s great exposure, that’s the number one thing,” Barrow said. “We are bringing Querbes Park to a broader base that maybe hasn’t seen this 100-year-old property. For the local people who haven’t been out here in a while, that’s a good thing.”

As you might expect, quite a few of those in the field – or hoping to get into the field – are local products.

“With what the David Toms Academy has done for local golf, this gives them an opportunity to play a local course where they have played high school matches,” Barrow said. “With the growth of junior golf in this corridor of Northwest Louisiana, this is a product of what has happened over the last 10 or 15 years. We now have a large base of junior golfers we can pull for, which is pretty cool.”

Grant Reagan, who recently won the Junior Division of the City Amateur, is entered, as are Byrd teammates James Holtzclaw and Peyton Johnson. Benton’s Noah McWilliams, who placed fourth at the LHSAA state tournament, is entered as well as Charlie Bell, who had a top 10 finish for Loyola College Prep.

Also in the field are Bossier City’s Hudson Greene and Sydney Moss, who is the only local girl entered.

In addition, several local golfers will be trying to qualify for one of the nine open spots in the field. The qualifier pairings begin at 8 a.m. today on both the No. 1 and No. 10 tees.

Barrow said there aren’t many changes to Querbes to get ready for the week. “The maintenance staff has rolled out the red carpet to do some things to see the potential, what Querbes Park could look like when you host a major event like this,” he said.

Those who know Querbes are aware of its subtleties; there will be a number of RPIs (red penalty areas) that the weekend golfer might have never seen before.

“The AJGA knew about all these little quirks that Querbes has and they were still willing to come,” Barrow said. “Most all of those (penalty) areas are marked, but in those shallow ditches you can still play out of them rather than take a penalty.”

And if the course plays too easy? So what?

“The AJGA’s response was that it will be a fun week for these kids,” Barrow said. “You don’t have to beat them up every week. It’s easy to walk the course, it’s easy for the parents and this course provides spectator views that other courses don’t. You can sit in one spot and watch five different holes. That will be fun for those who just want to come out and watch good golf.”