Scottsdale-Killarney student golf exchange tees off second half
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press
Scottsdale Sister Cities Association on Thursday, Oct. 26, is expected to welcome four student golfers and their two chaperones from Killarney, Ireland, for the second half of the Inaugural Scottsdale-Killarney Student Golf Exchange.
The visiting teen athletes will be home hosted by the families of Scottsdale’s youth ambassadors who had been their guests for 10 days last June, as part of the exchange program to ‘Educate World-Class Ambassadors through Golf.’
During the nine-day visit concluding Nov. 4, the golfing foursomes are being hosted for rounds at Talking Stick Golf Club and the Talking Stick Entertainment District venues of TopGolf and PopStroke, and will play at We-Ko-Pa and Camelback golf clubs.
On the cultural side, the itinerary includes a day trip to the Grand Canyon, tour of Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, and volunteering at Vista Del Camino Food Bank. The visitors will also shadow their hosts at their respective high schools and attend homecoming football games and dances.
“We are delighted to showcase to our visitors the tribal lands of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, which contain some of the best golf venues in the world” noted JoAnn Garner, SSCA board member and chair of its Killarney Committee, “and we will share their rich tribal histories and unique contributions to Arizona’s culture.”
Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega and David Antone, SRPMIC Council Member and Talking Stick Golf Club Board member, will lead ceremonies for the group’s first round tee-off at Talking Stick on Oct. 28. On Oct. 30, Mayor Ortega will take the delegation, along with SSCA and SRPMIC members, on a walking tour of the city’s newly renovated, award-winning Civic Center Plaza, followed by a celebratory Fiesta at Los Olivos Mexican Patio.
In Mayor Ortega’s proclamation establishing the Inaugural Youth Golf Exchange, he committed Scottsdale to “sustain youth exchanges that bridge understanding and engage future ambassadors of goodwill from Scottsdale to Killarney and beyond. “
SSCA’s youth golf ambassadors are:
- Payton Connelly, a junior at Arcadia High School;
- Oscar Uribe, a senior at Saguaro High School;
- Raleigh Lard, a senior at Horizon High School; and
- Aaryan Dwivedi, a senior at BASIS Scottsdale.
Dale Balvin, of AZ Junior Golf, chaperoned the Scottsdale teens in Ireland last June.
Killarney’s delegates are:
- Evelyn McCarthy;
- Ryan McCarthy;
- Alex O’Callaghan, and
- Aoife O’Sullivan.
“It was an incredible experience that I will never forget,” Mr. Connelly said. The golf was unreal. Some courses were tough, something I’ve never seen before, but it was an honor to play in Killarney and make some best friends for life.”
The Golf Exchange recognizes the economic importance of the golfing industry to Scottsdale and Killarney, both award-winning golf destinations and interested in promoting golf tourism.
It is the culmination of connections first made in the late 2000’s by SSCA’s then-president Joe Brett and his wife, Cori Brett, an international golf writer, with Killarney’s then-mayor Sean Counihan, who is now president of the Killarney Town Twinning Association.