Junior Golfers Enjoy Competition and Sportsmanship at Mt. Prospect Golf Course

By Matthew Saley

Driving, chipping and putting are all extremely important facets of golf, but competing with respect may be just as important.

This motto was true for Arlington Heights, Ill. native, Louis Maiorano, IV. Before competing in the Boys 7-9 age division during the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship local qualifier at Mt. Prospect Golf Course, Mt. Prospect, Ill., he commented on why he enjoys competing in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

“I like Drive, Chip, and Putt because it gives me a chance to show my sportsmanship,” he said.

Among the 225 registered competitors for the Mt. Prospect Golf Club local qualifier, two specific players dominated their age divisions. Fifteen-year-old Tanner Coakley from Crystal Lake, Ill., put up an overall total of 161 points, and nine-year-old Roslyn Stuart from Northbrook scored an overall total of 81 points.

With first place ribbons in hand, Tanner and Roslyn will advance with the second and third place overall finishers in each age division to the subregional at Randall Oaks Golf Club in West Dundee, Ill. on August 5. Those who finish in the top two there will head to the regional qualifier at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. on September 24. The top place finisher from each age group will move on to the National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club, held April 1, 2018, before the Masters Tournament.

The parents who came along with their junior golfers were all smiles at the Mt. Prospect local qualifier. Many couldn’t make enough positive comments about the impact that the program has on their child and their relationship with the game of golf.

While overlooking the chipping and putting areas, one parent commented to an Illinois PGA Section staff member, “Drive, Chip, and Putt is a great opportunity to introduce kids to the game of golf. I can’t say enough about what a positive impact this has been on their character and the Chicagoland area.”

The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship has certainly made an impact on the attitude of 11-year-old Grace Cavin of Wheaton, Ill.. After playing well enough to be named an alternate for the subregional qualifier, Cavin was asked why DCP is a fun event to be a part of.

“It’s fun for me because I get to come out and try each skill with other kids my age. Whether you win or lose, you have fun no matter what,” she said after taking a practice swing with her sand wedge.

Of course Drive, Chip and Putt is a fun time for all those involved, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken seriously. Several kids from each age division had a strategy and a solid understanding of the competition structure.

Noah Zyung, a 12-year-old from Glenview, Ill. was asked about his strategy when competing in a Drive, Chip and Putt event.

“I think about my own driving, chipping and putting skills at the moment,” he said. “I rank them and decide which two I am going to focus on the most. One bad station doesn’t mean you can’t do well.”

Noah was heard at the driving station talking with other competitors in his age group, mentioning to another, “Miss it right, it looks like there’s more space to keep it in the fairway and get points.”

For Jann Zuzzyse Arlan Atendido, a 12-year-old from Bensenville, Ill. his strategy was a bit different from the rest of the pack. He looked on quietly as the rest of the Boys 12-13 division hit at the driving station. Before hitting his drives, he was asked what made this event exciting.

“I like to compete. I want to know where I am at with my skills compared to other kids, both older and younger,” he said. “If I don’t do well in one station, I practice that more for the next event.”

As age divisions began to finish up, competitors and their parents made their way to the scoring table and live scoreboard to see where they placed among their peers. As the ribbon ceremony continued on, more hugs and high fives were exchanged between the kids.

The Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship local qualifiers come to an end in Illinois at the Peoria Golf Learning Center in Peoria, Ill. on Tuesday, July 25. Then, the subregional qualifiers will take place at Randall Oaks Golf Club on August 5 and Cog Hill Golf and Country Club on August 13.