History of the Callaway Junior Tour
In the summer of 1984, junior golf in West Virginia changed forever when Larry Martin, PGA Professional along with local golf courses Parkersburg Country Club, Golf Club of West Virginia and Moundsville Country Club hosted the first events of the 7-Eleven Tour. Little did people know in 1984 this would later become the state’s largest junior golf program, the Top Flite Junior Tour where hundreds of junior golfers would still be competing 33 years later. The 7-Eleven Tour in 1984, through the vision of Tour Founder Larry Martin, provided an affordable tournament experience for 54 junior golfers; 7-Eleven assumed sponsorship through the 80’s and early 90’s until the Top Flite Golf Company became the presenting sponsor in 1994, then in 2013 Callaway Golf became the Presenting sponsor. Today the Tour has expanded state-wide where in 2012 it welcomed a record 377 juniors! The numbers still remains well over 300 players every summer and 2017 will be the 34th season for The Callaway Junior Tour, which continues to promote and provide an affordable tournament experience for junior golfers.
Throughout the years, the tour has expanded from a three-event series, to in 2016 22 events, including a Par 3 Shootout. Within its 30 plus year history, there have been many memorable and exciting moments; August of 1995 was one of them when The Tour expanded its season to add a season finale, The Tour Championship held at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Juniors who qualified for the championship experienced not only the rich history and tradition of The Greenbrier, but also had an opportunity to meet legendary golfer Sam Snead. This tour gives youth golfer’s memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. In 2014 another piece was added to the posteseason when the "Callaway Junior Tour Playoff Series" began, this is a 2 event playoff where the top players make it to the annual Tour Championship at Parkersburg Country Club followed by the Finale at The Old White TPC, site of the PGA TOUR FedEx Cup Greenbrier Classic, where every July the top players in the world come to compete.
Past participants of the Top Flite Junior Tour include: Pat Carter- 13 Time WV Amateur Champion and member of WV Golf Hall of Fame; Sam O'Dell – 2-Time WV Amateur Champion; Ken Tackett – Past Executive Director of the West Virginia Golf Association and current Tournament official on PGA Tour; Christian Brand – 2011 WV Amateur Champion and 2 time WV Open champion; Brian Anania - 2014 WV Amatuer Champion; Alan Cooke - 2016 WV Amateur Champion; Stephanie Sparks – Host on The Golf Channel, as well as several collegiate student athletes, state champions, USGA Championship participants and golf professionals in West Virginia and surrounding states.
Since the tours inception it had been conducted and administered by the West Virginia PGA, and with the help of golf professionals from around the state, this tour and these juniors have been able to experience some of West Virginia’s most prominent facilities. In January of 2008, The West Virginia Golf Association began its role as the primary administrators of the Top Flite Junior Tour in conjunction with the West Virginia PGA. With the guidance from Tour Founder Larry Martin, this administrative change in 2008 brought the state of West Virginia together with the continued mission of the tour: To promote and provide an affordable tournament experience for junior golfers.
On February 24, 2012, The West Virginia golfing community lost one of its most dear friends and influential members. Larry Martin, PGA Professional, Callaway Golf representative and Founder of the Top Flite Junior Tour, passed away at his home in Williamstown. Martin always took the perspective of “respect the game and learn self- discipline” when it came to the game of golf. The West Virginia Golf Association will continue to promote those same values and his great legacy left behind. On January 1, 2013, the West Virginia Golf Association, through the vision of Larry Martin prior to his passing, announced a new chapter in the history of the junior tour; The Callaway Junior Tour. This name change came along as the presenting sponsor Callaway Golf announced their priority to support the development of competitive golf in West Virginia, as well to continue the goals of the late Larry Martin.