By BILL BROTHERTON
Junior golf has a special place in the heart of Donnie Lyons, general manager and director of golf for the town of Lynnfield, just as it did for his mentors Bill Barclay and Bill Flynn.
Lyons, who oversees the golf operations at Reedy Meadow (formerly Lynnfield Center) and King Rail golf courses, both 9-hole public courses owned by the town, began caddying at age 14 at Salem Country Club. One year later he started working in the pro shop at Salem. It led to a lifelong career in the sport for Lyons, who was inducted into the New England Section Professional Golfers Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
The Danvers resident is determined to give youngsters today the same opportunities.
“Kids are king,” said Lyons. “We are planning many kids programs this season, especially at Reedy Meadow.” Among the events planned at Reedy Meadow, a 2560- yard, par-34 course, are discounted rates for juniors, a golf camp for juniors and a “Family Special” that lets kids play for free after 4 p.m. on weekends if an adult pays his or her greens fee.
At Reedy Meadow, Lyons would like to bring back the North Shore Junior Invitational, designed for younger kids, ages 8 to 13. It was held in 2013 and 14, and the cost was free to participants. “Promoting junior golf is a passion of mine,” Lyons said.
Lyons added that the motto at Reedy is to provide an affordable and enjoyable golfing experience to players of all ages and abilities; juniors, seniors, adults; men, women, boys and girls. Lynnfield residents and non-residents are welcome. Private and group lessons are available. The course will open as soon as the ground is bare.
Over at King Rail, a 2404-yard par-34 (par 35 for women) course adjacent to the MarketStreet mall off of Route 128, “Frequent Player Passes” and discounted memberships for five and seven days will be offered, said Lyons. Head professional Eddie Whalley and grounds superintendent Mike Johnson, who oversaw the 2008 redesign, hope to surpass the 18,000 rounds played at the course last year.
The course is gorgeous, bordering wetlands and marshes. The King Rail birds, for which the course is named, are omnipresent. Golfers who played Colonial Country Club back in the day will feel right at home. Seven of that course’s original front-nine holes remain, along with two newly configured holes, including the short (about 85 yards) par-3 ninth.
“The course is fun. There are three par 3s, five par 4s and one par 5. Some of the greens are elevated and there’s water, lateral hazards, on four or five holes,” said Lyons. “Time is an issue these days. Both parents work. Seniors often provide child care for their grandchildren. Playing nine holes here is fun, it’s usually easy to get on the course, both courses are family-friendly and both courses are affordable,” said Lyons. Rates at King Rail and Reedy Meadow are $22 for 9 on weekends, $21 weekdays.
An April 1 opening is projected for King Rail, said Lyons, who added that a clubhouse will one day be built. For now, though, the trailer of past years will suffice. Lyons is hopeful that a liquor license can be obtained eventually.
Both courses are now accepting men’s and women’s leagues and outing requests online at lynnfieldgolf.com.