Two drives. Two chips. Two putts. Suffice to say, the participants at the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals have their work cut out for them when their big day arrives at Augusta National.
So how does the competition work? Each of the 80 finalists compete in eight divisions — broken down by girls and boys, ages 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15. The format is the same for all divisions.
When a division begins its competition (the order alternates between girls and boys through the various age groups), the players first go to the Tournament Practice Facility, where each competitor hits two drives. For a drive to count for a score, it must come to rest within a 40-yard-wide landing area. Golfers use their longest drive that stays inbounds. The player with the longest drive overall (distances are measured by laser devices) receives 10 points, the second-longest gets nine, through to the 10th golfer, who gets one.
Next, players move to the chipping area adjacent the driving range, where they hit two consecutive chip shots, both from about 40 feet. The distance each shot stops from the hole is measured (also using lasers) and added together. The golfer with the shortest overall distance receives 10 points, the second-shortest gets nine, through to one point for the player who finishes 10th.
Finally, players walk to Augusta National’s No. 18 green, where each hits two putts, one from 30 feet and one from 15 feet. The latter is from about the same spot Adam Scott made a birdie putt in regulation at the 2013 Masters, then won in a sudden-death playoff with Angel Cabrera.
The distance each putt finishes from the hole is measured and added together. The golfer with the shortest cumulative distance receives 10 points, and so on.
The golfer with the most combined points after all three contests is the division winner, with awards also given for second and third place, along with prizes for the top points earner in each skill. Golfers who finish in first, second and third place in each category also get an award.
A ceremony follows the completion of each competition, with a Masters champion awarding the hardware and posing for memorable photographs.
All of this occurs on site at Augusta National, but the surroundings are also special. Participants and their families arrive early in the weekend and stay at a downtown Augusta hotel with access to a nearby course for practice. On Saturday night, a welcome reception and dinner is held, hosted by Fred Ridley, the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, and the presidents of the USGA (Diana Murphy) and PGA of America (Paul Levy). Early Sunday, participants are driven to Augusta National and ride in player vans down Magnolia Lane to the Clubhouse. Following the competition, a pizza party is held at the hotel. Qualifiers and their families also are invited to attend Monday’s Practice Round to kick off Masters week.