At Turning Stone Subregional, Juniors Foreshadow Great Future for Golf

For Scott Baker, there’s no better way to spend quality time with his daughter Tenly than on the golf course.

Baker, who owns Stone Creek Golf Club in Oswego, N.Y., enjoys having 8-year-old Tenly by his side on the course and has been teaching her the fundamental skills of the game for the last two summers.

“Golf is fun. I like being outside. I get to play a lot,” Tenly said.

“I think she likes it because she gets to spend time with her father,” Scott Baker said with a smile.

“Yeah that too,” said Tenly, who broke into a wide grin as she looked up at her dad.

Connecting as a family through golf is also one of the special features of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship. The Bakers from Hannibal, N.Y., were among the 144 families to take part in the Aug. 16 subregional qualifier held at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y.

Peter Giacomelli, of Toronto, and his 11-year-old daughter Sophia used their four-hour road trip to the subregional for some daddy-daughter bonding which included outlet shopping in Kingston, Ontario.

“We did some shopping on the way here,” Sophia Giacomelli said. “The Adidas store was the best.”

“Getting that one-on-one time with her is what I like the most about going to these competitions,” Peter Giacomelli said.

Family support was wide spread at the Turning Stone subregional qualifier. Grandparents, parents and siblings closely followed competitors from one discipline to another to offer many things like a bottle of water, a word of advice or high-five. Parents also provided emotional support and encouragement to players.

William Schultz (center) is consoled by his mother Christy at the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship subregional qualifier August 17 at Turning Stone Resort and Casino. (Photo by M.F. Piraino)
Dustin Riccio takes a video of his son Massimo during the drive portion of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship subregional qualifier at Turning Stone Resort & Casino. (Photo by M.F. Piraino)
Olivia Mill (left) practices chipping while her brother Ewan looks on at the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship subregional qualifer at Turning Stone Resort and Casino. (Photo by M.F. Piraino)
Sophia Giacomelli of Toronto practices putting under the watchful eye of her dad Peter at the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship subregional qualifer at Turning Stone Resort and Casino. (Photo by M.F. Piraino)

A teary-eyed William Schultz needed an extra hug from his mother, Christy, after a disappointing performance in the chipping portion of the skills competition. But after some comforting words from mom, William came back to sink a 30-foot putt in the final skill in the Boys 7-9 age group.

“He’s a really good chipper so he was upset with how he did. He’s just competitive,” said Christy Schultz, of Livonia, N.Y.

At the subregional qualifier, the top two finishers in four boys and girls age brackets (ages 7-15) advanced to the Oct.1 regional at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., the home of five U.S. Opens. The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a joint initiative of the PGA of America, the USGA and the Masters Tournament. The 2018 National Finals take place at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament.

In addition to competition, sportsmanship is also among the life skills that are learned at these Drive, Chip and Putt events.

“The game of golf teaches more than just a golf swing and that’s what we’re here for,” Scott Baker said. “She wants to move on but if she doesn’t then she’s rooting for every one she plays with. That’s what’s great about this game.”

Central New York PGA Section president Richard Winstead is a firm believer that the youth programs his section offers -- Drive, Chip and Putt, PGA Junior League Golf and the Junior Golf Tour – helps junior golfers grow as players and people.

“There’s so much that is learned through golf,” said Winstead, who is the PGA professional at Woodcrest Golf Club in Chittenango, N.Y.

Ryan McGinnis, who oversees the CNY PGA’s junior programs as the section’s player development coordinator, understands the impact golf has on youngsters and its importance to the future of the sport.

“Junior golfers are the future of our sport,” McGinnis said. “It’s also important to our members and their clubs. These kids will be future members down the road so if you get them started young they will be there 10-15 years down the road playing golf.”

“We are so blessed to have two huge initiatives through PGA national, the Drive, Chip and Putt and Junior League Golf,” Winstead added. “We see that enthusiasm and excitement on the kids faces every day. Our junior participation level is at an all time high at my club.”

Under McGinnis, the CNY PGA Section also introduced its first Junior Clinic last May which drew 31 boys and girls.

“Our goals are to make it fun, make it social, make it inclusive,” McGinnis said.

Based on the number smiles, high-fives and laughter between players during the Drive Chip and Putt subregional qualifier, McGinnis and the event accomplished their mission.