Tyson Tour Registration Postponed Until June 1









by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioGolf.com

With the coronavirus pandemic crippling the local golf industry and with so much uncertainty, the Junior Tyson Tour (est. 1968) has delayed its registration opening until June 1.

Tyson Tour convener Steve Bennett, who oversees the City of London municipal golf system, said he will make a decision by May 20 in regards to whether 2020 tournaments will be played or cancelled.

The Tyson Tour is slated to open July 6 with the Ingersoll Junior Open, and is scheduled to close at the season-ending invitational championship August 26 at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club. The annual Les Thomas Memorial Tournament is slated for July 27 at Thames Valley Golf Club, and July 28 at Fanshawe Golf Club.

This would be the 53rd running of the Tyson Tour. The story of the tour’s formation is well known. In 1968, former London Free Press sports writer, Bev Tyrrell, established the tour which borrows its name from the Ty in Tyrrell, and the son part from his twin boys, Tim and Tom. When Tyrrell left for Winnipeg in 1978, he handed the Tyson Tour reigns to retired, long-time Thames Valley head professional Fred Kern. The 2012 LondonOntarioGolf.com Heart Award winner operated the tour until 2009. Andy Shaw was convenor before Bennett took over in 2016. Bennett is this year’s Heart Award winner.

(L-R): Junior Tyson Tour 2019 Bantam Boys champion Logan Battersby, Girls champ Jillian Friyia, Junior Boys champ Ben Landers, Juvenile Boys champ John Orlebar. Photo: Jeffrey Reed/LondonOntarioGolf.com.

Contested since 1981, the Les Thomas tournament carries the name of the former Golf Ontario director, and commissioner of London’s Public Utilities Commission in the 1970s. Like Bennett, Thomas was a huge supporter of junior golf.

Mike Weir captured back-to-back Les Thomas tourneys in 1986-87. He never won the overall Tyson Tour year-end title. But in 1986, the Bright’s Grove native won his first national title at the Canadian Juvenile Golf Championship. In 1988, Weir won the Ontario Junior championship, and captured two Ontario Amateur titles in 1990 and ’92.

“For more than half a century, the Junior Tyson Tour has provided junior golfers in Southwestern Ontario with an opportunity to compete in a tournament setting, while learning life’s lessons through golf,” Bennett said. “There is a lot of tradition on the Tyson Tour. We are the oldest tour in Canada with organized competitive golf for kids. It’s a grassroots development to get kids introduced to competitive golf. And over the years we have awarded more than $100,000 in bursaries, including bursaries from Canada Life in 2019.

“We also very much welcomed the kind provision in 2019 of partial golf scholarships of $500 for our top male golfer and $500 for our top female golfer to attend the Golf & Club Management Program at Fanshawe College. And with the program also providing all of our winners with prizes at the Tyson Tour invitational championship at Sunningdale Golf and Country Club, it’s just another example of how the local community has strongly supported the Tyson Tour for more than 50 years.”

Click here for a review of 2019 winners.

This season would perhaps be a historic one in the girls’ division, with Jillian Friyia poised to win a record fourth-straight overall girls’ championship.

But with local golf shut down due to COVID-19, and with the provincial government still operating under emergency measures at least until May 12, there is a real threat that this year’s Tyson Tour may be cancelled.

If the season is a go, then expect physical-distancing measures to be put in place.

But according to Bennett, safety for the kids competing on the Tyson Tour, and for anyone playing golf, is the only concern.

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A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989.