Scotch Plains-Based John Shippen Golf Academy Sends Young Golfer to Compete at Pinehurst

Derek Gutierrez (front row, second on right) at a John Shippen Golf Academy award ceremony last summer. Credits: Courtesy of John Shippen Golf Academy
Ten-year-old junior golfer Derek Gutierrez at a recent Scotch Plains Council meeting with his dad and Thurman Simmons of the John Shippen Golf Academy (seated). Credits: John Mooney

SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. – Ten-year-old junior golfer Derek Gutierrez is packing his bags and heading down to historic golf-haven Pinehurst, North Carolina, to compete in the 2016 Red, White and Blue Invitational this weekend.

Gutierrez qualified for the tournament with a third place overall finish in the Boys 10-year-old Spring 2016 North Jersey Local Tour, never finishing below 6th place in any tournament all season.

The Cranford native is a member of the John Shippen Youth Golf Academy and has been practicing at Scotch Hills Golf Course since the age of 5. The Academy’s chairman, Thurman Simmons, said that young Gutierrez is pound-for-pound “the best golfer in Central Jersey.”

Sign Up for E-News

With this being the biggest tournament in Gutierrez’s young career, Simmons and the Shippen Foundation will fund the entire trip down to North Carolina. In memory of African-American golf great John Shippen, the academy promotes minority participation in golf and is “dedicated to exposing, teaching and promoting the game of golf to all youth,” according to their mission statement.

Pinehurst, often renowned as the “Cradle of American Golf,” will be the first time the young golfer will compete out of state (excluding when he plays against his grandpa in Florida) and Gutierrez is anxious to tee-off this Fourth of July weekend.

“I’m really happy and excited, but also nervous,” he said, looking forward to the Boys’ Age 10 First Round tee time on Saturday morning. “This is my first big, big tournament.”

In his final tune-ups before the big trip, Gutierrez came in third at both the Pine Barrens Golf Club tournament last week and Green Acres Country Club tournament on Monday. Each helped boost the confidence that the budding star has admittedly always displayed.

“My grandpa showed us [how to play golf when I was five], and then I just wanted to be better than my brother,” Gutierrez said.

According to Simmons, when 5-year-old Gutierrez started at the Shippen Academy, he also told Simmons, “I’m going to play on TV one day.” Though that day has not come yet, the golf prodigy will move one step closer this weekend.

Gutierrez and the rest of the boys in his age group will tee off between 9:15 and 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, July 2. The second of two rounds will tee off the next morning between 7:30 and 9:00.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Update: Health Authorities Still Investigating Flu Death of Elizabeth Schoolgirl

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Health is continuing to investigate the cause of the passing of elementary school student Daniela Genaro after it was confirmed that the student had been diagnosed with influenza. Officials said it "presently remains unclear whether or not the virus was the primary contributing factor to the child's passing."

In a second letter ...

The Missing Moses

A seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah — from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers — where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening words are V’atah ...

Congratulations to UCDC Chairman Nick Scutari

February 23, 2018

Dear Editor:

First, congratulations to Chairman Nick Scutari. I look forward to working alongside him as 1st Vice Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee. 

For the last three weeks, this campaign for UCDC Chair displayed the power we have and the voice we share. You are the leaders, citizens and activists who are helping shape our future. What you do in your hometowns and ...

Being Alone on Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2018

Valentine’s Day is a day filled with Hallmark cards, chocolate covered strawberries, red roses and special dining.  It’s a day to express our love and affection to those close to us.  Some of us have expectations that this day will be blissful, we may even receive that diamond ring that represents engagement or marriage.

Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful time if ...

Poems Are Wanted for Fanwood Carriage House Poetry Prize

February 23, 2018

FANWOOD, NJ – The Carriage House Poetry Series and the Fanwood Shade Tree Commission are sponsoring the 2018 Carriage House Poetry Prize with a first prize of $300 plus publication of the winning poem in the autumn edition of Tiferet Journal.

Poets are invited to enter one or two poems – 40 lines or less each. There is a $5.00 entry fee for each contestant. Poems must be previously ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, February 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, February 23, 5:00 PM

Catanzaro Dining Hall at Saint Joseph High School, Metuchen

Friday Night Lenten Fish Fry

Food & Drink


Fri, February 23, 6:30 PM

Union County Vocational Technical Schools, West Hall Cafeteria, Scotch Plains

Union County Magnet High School Silent Auction

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink