By Rob Willis
EWAN Porter knows a bit about golfing talent.
A junior prodigy with a +4 handicap before turning professional in his teens, Porter had an abundance of it.
Twice a winner on the US Nationwide Tour, qualified for three Open Championships, long off the tee and with the fearless attitude needed to compete with the world’s leading players, Porter had all the tools and enjoyed reasonable success.
Golf at the elite level however can be a difficult road and at age 30, a combination of factors saw the competitive fire begin to burn out. Porter got away from golf for a time, before reinventing himself as a much sought-after commentator and podcaster, both in Australia and abroad.
But for all his personal achievements, perhaps the most impressive of all, and hopefully to continue long into the future, is his promotion
of junior golf through his adidas Junior Sixes Tour.
A concept inspired by a desire to honour the legacy of his father who passed away in 2018, through the Junior Sixes Porter is providing opportunity for young golfers to hone their craft and chase their golfing dreams.
“I always wanted to do something in junior golf but never knew how,” Porter began. “If I was going to do something I wanted to do it differently and properly.”
Porter’s idea was to build a junior tournament involving the leading players in the country, with professional tournament exemptions on offer to the winners.
“That first year in 2019 (at Cronulla GC) we had 36-holes stroke play and we had the top eight boys and the top eight girls who went into a series of six-hole knockout matches,” Porter recalled.
“The major carrot at the time was there were two tour exemptions for the boys and two for the girls, which for out of the blocks, first event, was pretty lucrative. I didn’t want to host a junior tournament where they just played for a $40 voucher.
“When the dust settled, I realised there was an opportunity to create something a little bit bigger and to have a series of events with the six-hole knockout incorporated.”
Australian junior champion Jeffrey Guan, then just 14, shot six-under for the two rounds to win the stroke play section, Hayden Hopewell defeating Elvis Smylie in the boy’s six-hole matchplay final. Cassie Porter (no relation), another to emerge from that inaugural event, has turned professional and is now forging a successful international career.
“So the talent was phenomenal,” Porter enthused.
Emphasising the quality of the young golfers at his first event, utilising a Junior Sixes exemption, Hopewell would go on to finish inside the top-10 at the Gippsland Super 6 tournament on the Australian Tour.
“I always wanted to do something in junior golf but never knew how. If I was going to do something I wanted to do it differently and properly.”
“It was the first professional tournament he’d ever played and that gave our Sixes event a lot of credibility,” Porter said.
Guan, Hopewell, Smylie, Porter, Harrison Crowe, the recent winner of the NSW Open and Justice Bosio, are among the junior stars to cut their teeth in Sixes events.
From those not-so-humble beginnings, the Junior Sixes now has corporate support, the backing of high-profile golfers such as Aussie Lucas Herbert and world top-10 player Victor Hovland. It has grown into a series with even more professional exemptions provided.
In 2020, eight Junior Sixes events were conducted, with a national final at the Newcastle Golf Club. Then, with challenges surrounding Covid continuing, the 2021-2022 seasons were combined, featuring 22 events – 18 played with a format of 18-hole stroke play, followed by six-holes of matchplay to decide a winner.
Players are competing for nine tournament exemptions, as well as four adidas golf and two TaylorMade scholarships.
“Out of the 22 events we have four majors, which are all World Amateur Golf Rankings events and those tournaments are 54 holes,” Porter said,
with the winner decided with the top boy and top girl playing a six-hole knockout.
“With regards to opportunities and pathways, I know I probably sound a little bit biased, but there is really nothing like it.”
In highlighting the expansion and growth, the Junior Sixes Tour hosted its first international event recently at Royal Wellington in New Zealand, with a world final scheduled for September at Kingston Heath Golf Club.
“With the borders opening up I’m hoping to be able to get some top juniors from around the world playing,” Porter said of his Melbourne finale.
In addition to the tournaments in Australia, Porter is trying to use his connections with the Ladies European and Challenge tours to create even more playing opportunities.
This is just the start with big plans and a huge future ahead with talented male and female golfers set to be the beneficiaries.
Without giving too much away, with a major announcement to come, the Junior Sixes is looking to expand to not only involve junior golfers but amateurs of all ages. World Amateur Rankings points and even more professional tournament starts will be made available.
“It’s very satisfying,” Porter said. “I tell people I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved with my golf and commentary, but it really does pale in comparison to being able to provide the opportunities we do and I guess you could call it giving back. It’s really rewarding.”
For more on the Junior Sixes, including information, results and schedules, go to the website at www.juniorsixes.com