Len Kennett is a golf advocate, juniors’ mentor and, as many enthusiasts like to describe him, a true gentleman of golf. Now going on his 56th year of providing a platform for junior golfers to embrace and excel in the sport, he will once again join with the Los Angeles County Junior Golf program for the Len Kennett Championships for Junior Golfers.
The tournament will take place at the Lakewood Country Club Wednesday, July 6 from 6:30am to 8pm and is open to boys and girls up to 18 years old. The competition consists of stroke play, 9-holes for players 11 and under, and 18-holes for the 12-and-older division. This year’s event has more than 300 participants.
Tournament director Mike McMonegal has been coordinating the tournaments since 1987 and remembers a 7-year-old Tiger Woods playing that first year he started. Jerry West also happened to be on hand for the junior tournament two years ago.
“Len, being who he is and how many years he’s been doing junior golf, he’s kind of like a celebrity,” McMonegal said. “His knowledge and what he has done for the game of golf for over 50 years is something the kids look forward to.”
Entry fee includes unlimited use of the driving range, lunch and a prize fund. Kennett will be present for the first tee at 6am until the final player drives. He will greet each player and individually announce him or her to the tee.
Kennett served on the Long Beach Golf Commission from 2002 to 2010 and was the golf professional and general manager for the Lakewood Country Club from 1979 to 2001. His is an honorary life member of both Los Verdes and Lakewood country clubs and has been inducted to the Southern California PGA Junior Golf Hall of Fame, the Long Beach Hall of Fame, and the Long Beach Century Club’s Hall of Fame.
“The fact that we have one of the longest running events and the fact that Len Kennett stands on the first tee and announces everyone’s name just as if they were playing in the U.S. Open, that doesn’t happen much today.” McMonegal said.
In addition to next week’s event, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation conducts free golf lessons throughout the year and throughout the summer hosts six other junior golf tournaments that are similar to the tournament.
“He was a golf professional here in Lakewood since 1979,” McMonegal said. “In the industry of golf now, we don’t really have any of these older guys, older golf professionals who do what the old pros always did. We have that, and that’s what kind of makes it special.”